New stud­ies have called vi­ta­min D’s health ben­e­fits into ques­tion, but are they ac­cu­rate?

Better Nutrition - - FRONT PAGE - BY VERA TWEED

Af­ter years of be­ing her­alded as a ben­e­fi­cial sup­ple­ment, with many doc­tors test­ing blood lev­els and pre­scrib­ing sup­ple­ments to raise them, vi­ta­min D is start­ing to be­come a bit con­tro­ver­sial. Some doc­tors are ques­tion­ing the wis­dom of both test­ing and sup­ple­men­ta­tion.

No one dis­agrees with the fact that vi­ta­min D is es­sen­tial. Un­til it be­gan to be added to milk in the 1930s, weak bones ( rick­ets in chil­dren and os­teo­ma­la­cia in adults) were ma­jor prob­lems. With­out enough vi­ta­min D, the body can’t ab­sorb cal­cium prop­erly, and bones be­come thin, brit­tle, and some­times de­formed. In re­cent decades, stud­ies have found that ad­e­quate lev­els of vi­ta­min D also con­trib­ute to many other as­pects of health, in­clud­ing:

* Im­mu­nity

* Heart health

* Cir­cu­la­tion

* Mus­cle func­tion

* Re­duced can­cer risk

* Health­ier ba­bies

* Less di­a­betes

* Less os­teo­poro­sis

* Sta­ble mood

* Less in­flam­ma­tion

Con­flict­ing Study Re­sults

De­spite a clear cor­re­la­tion be­tween ad­e­quate vi­ta­min D lev­els and less risk for many ma­jor chronic dis­eases, re­sults of sup­ple­ment stud­ies haven’t been com­pletely con­sis­tent. Some stud­ies have found that el­derly peo­ple who take vi­ta­min D suf­fer from fewer frac­tures, but oth­ers have found no such ben­e­fit. Some, but not all, stud­ies show that vi­ta­min D sup­ple­ments im­prove lev­els of blood su­gar and re­duce win­ter blues and res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions.

Sev­eral fac­tors could help ex­plain th­ese in­con­sis­tent re­sults. Stud­ies of

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