Vitamin D supplements benefit or waste? To put it another way, do vitamin D supplements actually work to help prevent diseases?
A new study by the British Medical Journal suggests vitamin D supplements do not help to prevent diseases as once suggested. Vitamin D is a type of natural occurring steroid used by the human body. Vitamin D helps the body absorb many of the minerals and nutrients we receive from food. Very few foods contain Vitamin D, so the body seeks it from elsewhere. Sunlight is the major source for the vitamin. It is synthesized through the skin.
Without vitamin D the bones in the body begin to soften. This can lead to rickets, osteoporosis, osteomalacia and even periodontitis. These particular conditions effect children (rickets) and the elderly more commonly.
During the colder months with shorter amounts of daylight many people turn to Vitamin D supplements to bridge their nutritional gap.
The clinic trials were unable to conclude that supplements reduced the risk of bone thinning or loss. However it can be argued that a supplement could help those who are at a higher risk for bone loss, such as those living in nursing homes.
Researchers suggest that for those at risk, a vitamin supplement regimen should be implemented during the fall and winter months. Those at risk should also seek advice about how to naturally increase their vitamin D intake.
One suggestion is to increase the amount of vitamin D enriched food in the diet. Foods such oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks, milk and cereals can help to provide vitamin D to the average person. The study did acknowledge the difference between US and UK diets. In the US many vitamins and minerals are added to foods and beverages. In the UK, this is not common. Although vitamin D is found naturally in red meat, eggs and fish, in the US Vitamin D is added to milk and cereals.
For more information on vitamin D and this study, you can read more here. As always, remember to speak with your medical professional regarding any treatment or health related issue.