Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dr. Oz's Vitamin D Recommendation Doesn't Hold Up To USPSTF Review

Yesterday, a patient came to see me again because she was concerned that I had recommended that she stop supplementing with Vitamin D. I had previously told her that she should get her Vitamin D (and fish oil) naturally from eating Wild Alaskan Salmon and other fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as halibut, cod, sardines, anchovies, herring, etc. at least three times a week, and from fortified foods such as unsweetened almond milk.

She had just been to another doctor for the thyroid disorder I had diagnosed who suggested she reinstate her taking Vitamin D. She wasn't happy in general with this particular endocrinologist, but wanted to discuss what to do next with her thyroid disease and his advice about Vitamin D.

I explained again that my recommendation was based on the prevailing science and the fact that she had a very good level of Vitamin D based on her bloodwork.

As fate would have it, in a draft recommendation released yesterday, the United States Preventive Task Force (USPSTF), confirming my recommendation, said there is no value for postmenopausal women in taking supplements up to 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium.

The USPSTF also found the evidence too scant to draw conclusions about vitamin D supplements, at any dose and with or without calcium, for cancer prevention in adults.

It was based on an evidence review finding that "in postmenopausal women, there is adequate evidence that daily supplementation with 400 IU of vitamin D3 combined with 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate has no effect on the incidence of osteoporotic fractures. However, there is inadequate evidence regarding the effect of higher doses of combined vitamin D and calcium supplementation on fracture incidence in postmenopausal women."

At the same time, the USPSTF found, doses at or below 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium increase the risk of kidney stones, albeit to a small degree.

But with no benefit from the supplements, even the small risk of harm is enough to tip the balance against them at these low doses, the group indicated.

The bottom line is there are no clear benefits of taking Vitamin D and calcium supplements and you can get all the Vitamin D your body needs, in the absence of deficiency, from natural sources including sun exposure, Wild Salmon, other fishes, etc.

Nevertheless, Dr. Oz repeatedly recommends Vitamin D as a top anti-aging supplement.

What are you going to follow: Science or marketing?


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