Vitamin D or Not?: A Natural Medicine Specialist’s OpinionJul 02, 2014 01:07AM ● By Kenneth Hoffman
It is not uncommon for vitamins and supplements to come under fire as either damaging or of no benefit at all when they are studied in conventional scientific studies. Often this is due to poor study design or poor quality products used in the studies so not a true reflection of the benefit of the supplement in question. For example, some vitamin E supplementation research studies reported that this nutrient could actually cause cancer. However, what wasn’t disclosed was that the type of vitamin E used was a synthetic, poorly produced brand. Studies with natural vitamin E were more favorable.
Frequently, such flawed research findings find their way to major media sources that publish the information as if to “warn” the public that they are being misled about supplement use. The latest vitamin to experience a high level of scrutiny resulting in confusing scientific study results seems to be vitamin D, an essential nutrient needed by the body for multiple functions.
Vitamin D is critically important for strong bones. It allows for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for developing the structure and strength of bones. Vitamin D is also important for general good health, and researchers now are discovering that vitamin D may be important for many other reasons outside of good bone health. Research on the functions of the body supported by vitamin D includes the following:
• Immune system, which helps you to fight infection
• Muscle function
• Cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
• Respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
• Brain development
• Anti-cancer effects
On January 24, 2014, a study was published in the journal, The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, with an accompanying editorial regarding vitamin D. The editorial says “the finding by Dr. Bolland and colleagues that future studies are not likely to change the recommendation that most people will not benefit from vitamin D supplements is ‘of particular interest.’ “
A counter response identifying the flaws of the Lancet article was put forth by Brant Cebulla from the Vitamin D Council. The council was formed in 2003 by current Executive Director John J Cannell, MD, and serves as a center for public information and evidence-based vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Council has published hundreds of well-researched articles on the vitamin’s benefits. Cebulla explains a number of reasons why the Lancet article fails to grasp the potential value of vitamin D.
Cebulla’s first point is that the Lancet piece was a review article rather than primary research. A review article is one in which the authors sort through and analyze all the research published to date, but do not conduct any new research. Cebulla stated that “Although the title of the paper claims that it was a systematic review, it’s not exactly a systematic review in the classic evidence-based medicine sense. Systematic reviews address a specific question – called a PICO question – asking how an exposure relates to an outcome or outcomes. That’s not what this paper did; there’s no clearly defined PICO question or questions.”
Cebulla notes that many studies of vitamin D showed potential benefit for certain diseases, but not enough large-scale studies have been conducted. However, several large scale studies are currently in process and expected to be completed in 2017.
In this author’s opinion, much of today’s research, editorialization and subsequent media magnification do a disservice to those who prescribe, use, need and benefit from vitamin D. A built-in bias to vitamins seems to exist in the mainstream media, who are quick to announce to the public the perceived failure of natural medicine while ignoring negative research about more conventional medicines such as vaccines and pharmaceutical products.
Until more information becomes clear through proper scientific inquiry, educate yourself and have your vitamin D levels checked by a responsible and qualified natural medicine practitioner.
Kenneth Hoffman, LAc, CCH, is medical director of SOPHIA Natural Health Center, a natural medicine practice located in Brookfield. For more information, visit SophiaNaturalHealth.com or call 203-740-9300. See Community Resource Guide listing, page 73.
For more information on vitamin D, visit VitaminDCouncil.org/Blog/a-Look-at-the-Recent-Lancet-Review-Study/#.