Here we go again. Another recent large long term study, Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) study has come out appearing to again show vitamin D3 has essentially no health benefits.1 It was funded by the National Institute of Health involving 26,000 people who were followed for an average of 5 years.
It was a preventative study to see if either vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), Omega-3s (EPA and DHA) or both could reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and/or cancer. They used what they considered high dose vitamin D3. The findings so far, it is an ongoing study, are neither vitamin D3 nor omega-3s prevent cancer or cardiovascular disease. There are multiple major flaws in this study.
First, in this study their idea of what constitutes a high dose of vitamin D3 was 2,000 IU/day is flawed. Where and how they came up with how this dose should be considered high dose is not explained. Let’s look at that for a moment.
Trying to calculate “natural” that is how much vitamin D3 one would ideally produce and ingest if not using supplements or intentionally trying to influence our levels. That is, we look for an example in nature or in this case a group of people who might have the highest levels from sun and diet.
That is often our fall back point in trying to understand something like vitamin D3 where we don’t know what the optimal blood level is. Since, most is typically produced by sun exposure let’s look at that. The problem there is skin production of vitamin D3 from sun exposure is fraught with many variables.
That to better understand what the norms are. Thus, if people in primitive societies for example have an average blood level of say 40 ng/ml that must be the ideal blood level. This makes sense in many situations, but it should not be the gold standard.
As these societies are just that primitive and perhaps even in the best case scenario they also are deficient in say vitamin D3. We don’t know. Though looking at other groups to find a group that stands out from the rest. Like the areas on earth where people are more likely to live to one hundred.
Though often a good way to find the ideal example it isn’t always the best. In vitamin D3’s case I don’t think there are any “nature” examples of the optimal blood level or at least none I am aware of. I believe the optimal blood level is much higher then we usually find.
What if we could do better then we have found? As rickets the most obvious disease attributed to vitamin D3 deficiency has been around for centuries. Thus, we clearly have had an issue with its deficiency for a long time.
The adult diseases on the other hand that are caused by vitamin D3 deficiency are much more difficult to connect to its cause. Yes, I as do many argue there are many diseases that are a result of vitamin D3 deficiency that is not widely accepted.
In fact, some are working hard to as this study in my opinion shows, to disprove any connection. Those that are doing this will fail as people are not going to stay ignorant for long and why pay for expensive solutions and suffer from disease needlessly when a less expensive and more natural solution is available. Clearly an area where fraud will abound, with people making unfounded claims on both sides of this issue, but we will eventually get to the truth.
- Keaney JF, Rosen CJ. (January 3, 2019) VITAL Signs for Dietary Supplementation to prevent Cancer and Heart Disease. N Engl J Med. 380:91-93.
*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!