The New England Journal of Medicine released new research on Vitamin D. The journal highlighted a Brigham and Women’s Hospital study that looked at vitamin D supplementation as it relates to cancer and cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes.
Previous research suggested that vitamin D supplementation is a way to prevent cancer or cardiovascular events. Vitamin D plays a role in the inflammatory response process, which is key in the development of atherosclerosis, or the build up of plaque in arteries. The VITAL study evaluated the correlation between long-term vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events and cancer.
The study evaluated more than 25,000 men and women taking vitamin D from a daily 2,000 IU supplement. To be eligible for the VITAL study participants had to have no prior history of cancer or cardiovascular disease.
The results of the study showed no significant difference between the placebo group and the group receiving active vitamin D. The overall trial had 1,617 participants develop some form of invasive cancer, with 793 of these being from the vitamin D group. Also, during the trial there were 805 major cardiovascular events with 396 of these events taking place in the vitamin D group.
The bottom line is that vitamin D supplementation is not considered to decrease one’s risk of developing cancer or experiencing a cardiovascular episode. Sufficient vitamin D can be successfully obtained from the diet and from skin exposure to the sun. While there are no serious complications from vitamin D supplements, the VITAL study shows that vitamin D is not a magic pill that will make you immune from experiencing a cardiovascular episode or from developing cancer.