In recent years, healthy people have been bombarded by stories in the media and on health websites warning about the dangers of too-low vitamin D levels, and urging high doses of supplements to protect against everything from hypertension to hardening of the arteries to diabetes.
But new research from Johns Hopkins finds that blood levels of the so-called "sunshine vitamin" higher than the top of the range suggested by the Institute of Medicine confer no additional benefit. This finding, combined with results of a previous study by the same group noting potential harm from higher vitamin D levels in healthy people, has urged investigators to prescribe caution.
"Healthy people have been popping these pills, but they should not continue taking vitamin D supplements unchecked," says study leader Muhammad Amer, M.D., M.H.S., an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "At a certain point, more vitamin D no longer confers any survival benefit, so taking these expensive supplements is at best a waste of money."
Amer stresses that there are some groups of people — elderly, postmenopausal women, and people with kidney disease — who do benefit from higher blood levels of a vitamin vital to bone health. Such groups may need to take supplements.
In an article published online in the American Journal of Medicine, Amer and Rehan Qayyum, M.D., M.H.S., also of Johns Hopkins, describe their review of data from more than 10,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 to 2004. They matched those data with mortality data from the National Death Index through Dec. 2006.
When they looked at deaths from all causes and cardiovascular disease specifically, those with blood levels of 21 nanograms per milliliter of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D — at the top of the range that the IOM considers "adequate" and at the low end of "normal" — cut their risk of death in half. Above 21 nanograms per milliliters, the data suggest that the protective effect appears to wear off.
The primary source of vitamin D is the sun, and although it is found naturally in very few foods, commercially sold milk is usually fortified with it. Amer says as people spend more and more time indoors and slather their bodies with sunscreen when outdoors, concern is rising that many are vitamin D-deficient. But he says there is no set amount of supplementation that can bring someone up to 21 nanograms per milliliter because the way people process vitamins varies.
In research published in January 2012 in the American Journal of Cardiology, Amer and Qayyum found that increasing levels of vitamin D in the blood are linked with lower levels of a popular marker for cardiovascular inflammation — c-reactive protein (also known as CRP). Beyond blood levels of 21 nanograms per milliliter, any additional increase in vitamin D was associated with an increase in CRP, a factor linked to stiffening of the blood vessels and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. The team's unpublished research also suggests a link between excess vitamin D and elevated homocysteine levels, another danger sign for cardiovascular disease.
People should consult with their doctors, Amer says, before starting vitamin D supplements and should have their blood levels checked. Still, he says, "most healthy people are unlikely to find that supplementation prevents cardiovascular diseases or extends their lives," and there is no consensus among doctors on what is the right level of vitamin D in the blood for healthy people.
"There are a lot of myths out there and not enough data," he concludes.Qayyum's work is supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (1K23HL105897-01).
Stephanie Desmon | EurekAlert!
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
22.03.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences