Washington, D.C.—The results of an ancillary study of the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL) reported in theNew England Journal of Medicine concluded that vitamin D3supplementation did not result in a significantly lower risk of fractures than placebo among generally healthy midlife and older adults who were not selected for vitamin D deficiency, low bone mass, or osteoporosis.

Following the publication of the study, mainstream media posted headlines such as "Study Finds Another Condition That Vitamin D Pills Do Not Help" in theNew York Timesand "Are Vitamin D Supplements Useless" from Verywell Health.

Industry Responds to Vitamin D Study

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a response to the findings and an editorial on the study. “Vitamin D and calcium work in tandem to support bone health—calcium helps build and maintain bones, while vitamin D helps your body effectively absorb calcium," said Andrea Wong, Ph.D., CRN Senior VP Scientific and Regulatory Affairs. "So, these secondary study results are not surprising since VITAL was designed to assess vitamin D supplementation alone and did not include or control for calcium supplementation and intake. It seems obvious that investigating one without the other would produce disappointing results.

“Further, the study focused only on generally healthy midlife or older adults instead of individuals with vitamin D deficiency, low bone mass, or osteoporosis who may be more vulnerable to fractures and derive a benefit from vitamin D supplementation. The odds were stacked against this ancillary study before it even started.

“Despite the limitations of the ancillary study, the main VITAL findings and another ancillary study have added to the body of research on vitamin D’s impact on health, including promising results for reducing the risk of cancer-related death and autoimmune diseases. These and other important benefits have been completely ignored in the accompanying editorial, which outright dismisses vitamin D screening and supplementation."

Vitamin D is Essential

“The fact remains that vitamin D is an essential nutrient that supports numerous biological functions," Dr. Wong added. "Dietary studies have repeatedly shown many people still fall short of obtaining adequate levels of vitamin D and may be missing out on health benefits. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies vitamin D as a ‘nutrient of public health concern.’ Advising people to stop taking vitamin D supplements when natural food sources of this nutrient are scarce and sun exposure may not be feasible for those who are most vulnerable, is a disservice to public health. People should discuss with their health care practitioner whether testing their vitamin D levels or supplementing with vitamin D is appropriate.”

CRN offered resources to help educate the public

The CRN Foundation’s “Vitamin D & Me!”websiteincludes more information on theprevalence of vitamin D deficiencyas well as a library of scientificresearchon vitamin D.

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