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A large percentage of the population would benefit from higher levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the prevention of some 20 common cancers, the prevention of bone problems, modulation of neuromuscular and immune function, reduction of inflammation, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. Vitamin D also seems to improve infertility, weight control and memory.

The D story

D’Research Agenda

As you follow the articles on this website, you’ve probably become aware that one of the things we keep mentioning is the need for additional rigorous, scientific research that goes beyond correlational studies to really and fully understand how vitamin D accomplishes or causes what we hope is a causative role in optimal health. That’s the most important, forward-looking direction that vitamin D research needs to take moving forward.

That’s why it’s frustrating when articles come along and claim that vitamin D has not been proven to cause anything positive as regards things like general mortality, heart disease and depression (see the first several articles in the sources for further reading below). And yet nearly all such articles are not definitively stating vitamin D does have the potential positive effects discussed. They almost always say further research is needed with studies designed in certain ways before anything definitive can be said. That’s a more positive take on the problem than what the headlines lead one to believe. By all means, let’s conduct more research and see if we can definitively get to the bottom of what vitamin does and does not cause.

Another problem with much of the research is that more studies are being done that try to determine whether vitamin D supplementation is really beneficial or not for a variety of diseases and conditions. Many such studies seem to be testing for supplementation of vitamin D intake through pills. While this is a good thing, it doesn’t go far enough. If part of what we feel is important about vitamin D intake is to get most of it from the sunshine, showing that pills are ineffective is not enough for us to say vitamin D supplementation is ineffective. We encourage more researchers to test multiple pathways of vitamin D supplementation, and especially supplementation through exposure to sunshine. That will more than likely cause some in the medical community (dermatologists) to cringe, but clearly not all sources of vitamin D are created equal. Thus, while we applaud efforts such as the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s new study it is launching to find out if vitamin D can prevent Type 2 diabetes, we sure do wish they weren’t just going to supplement through pills.

Much more promising, in our opinion, are studies such as one being launched by The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne to try and determine the optimal level of exposure to the best natural source of vitamin D, sunshine, while also making sure the risk of skin cancer is addressed.

Sources for Further Reading:

Tags: health
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