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Watch Out: Too much of a (maybe) good thing

From likely the same people who hyped hormone “therapy” for menopausal women (for chronic disease prevention) and vitamin E (for heart disease protection) and selenium (for prostate cancer protection), none of which work and some of which cause significant harm for some people, we are being bombarded with hype for vitamin D (a supposed cure-all for nearly every chronic health condition).

Perhaps vitamin D may prove helpful for a couple of conditions (osteoporosis prevention, for example) but there are several still-outstanding issues that should stop most of us from bouncing onto this runaway bandwagon.

In short, we don’t know nearly enough as yet about such vital vitamin D issues as:

  • Genetic (or other) differences that likely play a huge role in who might benefit from vitamin D supplements and who can’t
  • The most effective form of vitamin D supplement and the dose of that works best
  • Whether vitamin D supplements work best only combined with other nutritional interventions
  • Long-term safety.

Yet despite that huge gap in essential knowledge, lots of experts (including some authoritative institutions) are pushing this vitamin on nearly everyone, with some even arguing that the more of this vitamin you take, the better.

No wonder, then, that a recent study published as a research letter in the June 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a rising number of Americans (probably as likely in Canada where we tend to get less sun exposure than our American cousins) are taking doses of vitamin D far in excess of what most experts feel you should take with the elderly being the most likely to be over-dosing.

Maybe vitamin D supplementation will eventually prove universally useful for something, but even if it does, it’s very unlikely to require huge doses to have that beneficial effect.

Very very few things (perhaps none) in life that is useful or effective in small or moderate doses ever prove even better in huge doses.