In response to a new study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, “Exercise and Vitamin D in Fall Prevention Among Older Women,” the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, issued the following statement:
Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:
“It is a well-known fact that Americans are getting insufficient amounts of vitamin D. In its recent scientific report, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee identified vitamin D as a ‘shortfall’ nutrient, specifically one of ‘public health concern.’ It is difficult to get vitamin D from food, and even if you eat a diet rich in this nutrient, you still may not achieve the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs). With that in mind, vitamin D supplements should be considered for achieving healthy levels.
This new study confirms the established role of vitamin D for bone health, but there are many other beneficial reasons for people to supplement with vitamin D. Other studies have pointed to a role for vitamin D in helping with cognitive function and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases; however, it is important to manage expectations for vitamin D’s role in isolation and to remember that optimal nutrition is just one component of many needed to prevent chronic disease.
Additionally, we know that adverse health outcomes for under-consumption of vitamin D exist. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with increased risk of falls, fractures, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes mellitus, depressed mood, cognitive decline, and mortality.
In an accompanying commentary to the study, the commentary authors note that although this new study didn’t find benefit for vitamin D in preventing falls among older women, updating the recent USPSTF meta-analysis to include this trial (and other new data) ‘...does not change the overall conclusion that vitamin D remains associated with an 11 percent decreased risk of falls...’ The authors then point to some of the possible confounding factors to consider with this positive conclusion for vitamin D, including whether calcium was also administered. Further, the commentary authors remind doctors that given its low cost and low risk, vitamin D should remain in the physician’s collection of resources while more research continues. As those authors pointed out, taking a person’s vitamin D status into account may be useful in determining recommendations for helping prevent falls.
As a naturopathic doctor, I will continue to recommend vitamin D to my patients for all of its many benefits.”