Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 12th 2016 Contents A24
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, November 12, 2016
Doctors are warning about vitamin
D again, and it s not the "we need
more" news you might expect. Instead,
they say there s too much needless
testing and too many people taking
too many pills for a problem that few
people truly have.
The nutrient is crucial for strong bones
and may play a role in other health con-
ditions, though that is far less certain.
Misunderstandings about the recom-
mended amount of vitamin D have led
to misinterpretation of blood tests and
many people thinking they need more
than they really do, some experts who
helped set the levels write in Thursday s
New England Journal of Medicine.
Correctly interpreted, less than six
per cent of Americans ages one to 70
are deficient and only 13 per cent are in
danger of not getting enough.
That s concerning, "but these levels
of deficiency do not constitute a pan-
demic," the authors write.
Yet people may think there is one.
Blood tests for vitamin D levels---not
advised unless a problem like bone loss
is suspected---are soaring. Under
Medicare, there was an 83-fold increase
from 2000 to 2010, to 8.7 million tests
last year, at US$40 apiece. It s Medicare s
fifth most common test, just after cho-
lesterol levels and ahead of blood sugar,
urinary tract infections and prostate
"I m not sure when it got popular to
check everybody for vitamin D defi-
ciency," but patients often ask for it,
especially baby boomers, said Dr Kenny
Lin, a Georgetown University family
Vitamin D pill use also grew, from
five per cent of Americans in 1999 to
19 per cent in 2012.
That may be due to many reports
suggesting harm from too little of "the
sunshine vitamin," called that because
our skin makes vitamin D from sun
exposure. It s tough to get enough in
winter or from dietary sources like milk
and oily fish, though many foods and
drinks are fortified with vitamin D and
labels soon will have to carry that infor-
Too much vitamin D can lead to high
levels of calcium in the blood, which
can cause nausea, constipation, kidney
stones, an abnormal heart rhythm and
"We re not saying that moderate-dose
supplements are risky, but more is not
necessarily better," said Dr JoAnn Manson
of Brigham and Women s Hospital in
Boston. She and several other advisers
to the Institute of Medicine, which set
the RDA, or recommended dietary
allowance, wrote the journal article.
People vary, biologically, in how much
of any vitamin they need. The institute
estimated this by comparing various
intake and blood levels with measures
of bone health. They estimated that, on
average, people need about 400 inter-
national units of vitamin D per day, and
600 for people over 70.
To be safe and ensure that everyone
gets enough, they set the RDA at the
high end of the spectrum of the pop-
ulation s needs---600 to 800 units,
depending on age. So by definition,
nearly everyone s true requirement is
Many people and their doctors regard
the RDA and its corresponding blood
levels as a threshold that everyone needs
to be above, the authors write. As a
result, people often are told they are
inadequate or deficient in D when, in
fact, they re not.
"If you re chasing a lab number, that
will lead to many people getting higher
amounts of vitamin D than they need,"
and labs vary a lot in the quality of test-
ing, Manson said.
The bottom line: Get 600 to 800
units a day from food or supplements
and skip the blood test unless you have
special risk factors, Manson said.
A big study she is helping lead is test-
ing whether higher levels lower the risk
of cancer, heart disease, stroke, memory
Umberto Veronesi, an Italian oncol-
ogist, former health minister and sen-
ator widely respected for his work on
preventing and treating breast cancer,
has died, his foundation said. He was
90.Veronesi s eponymous foundation
announced his death late Tuesday, say-
ing his final message was one of
encouragement "to continue, because
the world needs science and reason."
Veronesi was internationally recog-
nised as one of the fathers of cancer
research. He advocated conservative
treatment of breast cancer and his
research over three decades is credited
with helping hundreds of thousands
of women each year to receive curative
surgery, preserving the breast.
His work on cancer research led him
to vegetarianism and fasting, subjects
of several books he wrote.
He also promoted a conservative
approach to treating melanoma, adopt-
ed by the World Health Organisation.
News and Advice
Italian oncologist seen as
father of cancer research dies
Umberto Veronesi was heralded for
his work in the area of breast cancer.
loss, depression, diabetes, bone loss or
other problems. Nearly 26,000 people
have been taking 2,000 units of D-3
(the most active form of vitamin D,
also known as cholecalciferol) or
dummy pills every day for five years.
Results are expected in early 2018. (AP)
Doctors: Vitamin D
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
Links Archive November 11th 2016 November 13th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page