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Taking Vitamin D

A few years ago, all the rave was about Vitamin C and, later, Calcium. Either or both were reported to prevent heart disease, colds, and even cancer. Now, it’s Vitamin D, right after we lost our flavor for magnesium. My patients ask, should I be taking Vitamin D?

History of Supplement Fads

Looking at the Wayback Machine, which is an archive of the internet, here is the breakdown of which supplements were in favor:

  • 1990s – Echinacea, Ginko Biloba
  • Early 2000s – Glucosamine, Chondroitin, CoQ10
  • Mid 2000s – Acai Berry, Omega3, Probiotics, Resveratrol
  • Early 2010s – Magnesium, Zinc, Vit C, Coffee Beach Extract
  • Mid 2010s – Turmeric, Collagen, CBD
  • 2020s – Ashwagandha, Elderberry, ACV, Vit D

Often, physicians would get in on these recommendations and either prescription-grade versions would become available or doctors would recommend their own versions and combinations (i.e. turmeric with black pepper.)

Looking back, none of these have endured the test of time. Some may have their place in narrow cases, but none can be widely recommended to everyone, as was the case when they first became popular.

Is it possible that Vit D is different this time around?

Endocrine Society Recommendation

The Endocrine Society has quite a few interesting recommendations to make about Vit D levels and taking Vit D. Some notable recommendations are listed below:

  • Children 1-18 should take Vit D
  • The general public under age 50 shouldn’t take Vit D
  • No routine use of Vit D for 50-74 year olds
  • Vit D for everyone over age 75
  • Vit D for everyone who is pregnant
  • Vit D for all high-risk prediabetic patients

We could review their detailed reasoning and rationale, but you can review the cited journal article and make your own decisions.

Physicians who treat individuals understand that it’s rare for two patients to present the same way, much less have the same physiology, to warrant the same recommendation.

Therefore, recommending Vit D for everyone just because of an arbitrary age cutoff is as obtuse as recommending that everyone get 150 minutes of exercise a week.

Is Vit D Necessary?

There are chiropractors, naturopaths, physicians, and health gurus who are adamant that vitamin D is crucial for preventing cancer, living longer, being healthier, and catching fewer colds.

However, many health gurus find the vitamin D discussion too superficial. In fact, they distinguish between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. You can even purchase their recommended supplements from their website, which, unfortunately, creates a major conflict of interest.

Medicine isn’t a popularity contest. No single health expert has a monopoly on clinical knowledge, no matter how well they market their messages. They don’t know what you need and what is best for you.

Unfortunately, Western Medicine is also often too fast-paced to delve into each patient case. This is where your own research is important. And measuring your outcomes and reviewing research data with your doctor matters. If your doctor isn’t capable of that and it’s important to you, then you have to find the kind of doctor who can.

Vit D Isn’t a Panacea

A Vitamin D capsule isn’t going to prevent cancer, a cold, or heart disease or help you live longer. And I’m perfectly aware that this statement may be proven wrong a few years from now. But right now, in 2024, this is a true statement.

It doesn’t mean that you should stop taking your Vit D. In fact, Vit D might be the exact thing you need to feel healthier. It’s just that those claims are false, misleading, manipulated, and often commercially biased.

The idea that you may need something in a pill or concentrated form to improve your health is almost always commercially biased. So, to decide if you really need it then you must first understand your particular health status and your risk factors and your health goals.

Once you have a good inventory of that, you can determine if Vitamin D blood testing is even needed. Next, is that serum marker even predictive of your outcome? Meaning that if you raise your Vitamin D level with Vitamin D supplements, will you have the same outcomes as those who naturally have a high vitamin D?

Better studies, so far, show that this is not the case; raising your Vit D artificially with Vit D supplementation won’t have the effects observed in those who naturally have Vit D.

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