Benefits of Vitamin D: How Much Evidence is Really Out There?

Ten common beliefs of vitamin D benefits are examined in the study
Ten common beliefs of vitamin D benefits are examined in the study

Many of the potential therapeutic benefits of Vitamin D are not validated by science, reported Dr. Michael Allan, in a review published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine

Vitamin D is believed to be a vital nutrient supplementation that offers benefits in various medical conditions including depression or multiple sclerosis. Dr. Allan, from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, examined the data for 10 common beliefs about vitamin D ranging from its ability to decrease falls and fractures, improve depression and mental well-being, prevent rheumatoid arthritis, treat multiple sclerosis, and decrease incidence of cancer and mortality. 

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His review found little evidence that vitamin D supplementation had much of an effect. Just a few of the ten beliefs appeared to exhibit some scientific evidence. 

The most robust evidence was that of vitamin D exerting a minor benefit in reducing the number of falls among elderly and reducing fractures. "The one that we probably have the most evidence for is fractures. If you were to take a group of people who were at higher risk of breaking a bone--so had about a 15% chance of breaking a bone over the next 10 years--and treated all of them with a reasonable dose of vitamin D for a decade, you'd prevent a fracture in around one in 50 of them over that time."

The other benefits of vitamin D in the review remain unproven, Dr. Allan noted. Much of the existing studies around vitamin D have poor execution and report poor quality evidence. Moving forward, he added that the studies need to be of higher caliber to have clinical applicability. 

For more information visit med.ualberta.ca.

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