Holick cites a number of benefits to such moderate sunlight exposure, including prevention of osteoporosis, decreased levels of depression, and some new work indicating decreased risk of breast and prostate cancers. Both the department head who fired him and the head of the professional association who was asked to comment on the matter used the words “irresponsible” and “dangerous” in justifying the decision to fire the man.
April, 2014, NYT: Low Vitamin D levels linked to disease in two big studies
When the researchers looked at supplement use, they found no benefit to taking vitamin D2. But middle-aged and older adults who took another form, vitamin D3 — which is the type found in fish and dairy products and produced in response to sunlight — had an 11 percent reduction in mortality from all causes, compared to adults who did not. In the United States and Europe, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of the population is deficient in vitamin D. In their paper, Dr. Franco and his colleagues calculated that roughly 13 percent of all deaths in the United States, and 9 percent in Europe, could be attributed to low vitamin D levels.
In the second study, also published in BMJ, a team of researchers at Stanford and several universities in Europe presented a more nuanced view of vitamin D.
They concluded there was “suggestive evidence” that high vitamin D levels protect against diabetes, stroke, hypertension and a host of other illnesses. But they also said there was no “highly convincing” evidence that vitamin D pills affected any of the outcomes they examined.
“Based on what we found, we cannot recommend widespread supplementation,” said Evropi Theodoratou, an author of the study and research fellow at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Theodoratou was not alone in suggesting people hold off on taking vitamin D supplements for now. Even though Dr. Franco found them to be beneficial, he said that more research was needed to show what levels are best. Instead of taking pills, people could improve their vitamin D levels with an adequate diet and 30 minutes of sunlight twice a week, he said.
“The most important factors in obtaining vitamin D are going out and doing some exercise and following a healthy diet,” he added.