The dangers of simplistic scientific research to the observed benefits of dietary supplements.

A new scientific research published by a team of researchers from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and the University of Aberdeen (UK) has cast doubts on the efficacy of Vitamin D supplementation on bone health. The experiment was carried out using Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT) on nearly 54,000 patients and the results were published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology (full article is available for purchase here). RCT is a statistical tool that is commonly used to reduce bias in medical trials.

However, Dr. Stephen Daniels, Editor-in-Chief of North and South America William Reed Business Media, who also holds a PhD in Chemistry and is an awarded journalist, warns about the dangers of using RCTs to assess the efficacy of one nutrient. He adds that this tool has a limited statistical strength to support that Vitamin D supplementation does not work (read his comments on these findings here). He strongly calls the reader’s attention to some of the flaws of the technique that may create a simplistic analysis of complex compounds such as vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Daniels, in his article, warns us is that simply claiming that “dietary supplements do not work” can in fact be detrimental to several patients who have been on Vitamin D supplements (and/or on other vitamins). The ” totality of the evidence” significantly supports the benefits to bone health of Vitamin D supplementation.

Although supplementing our diet with Vitamin D may not necessarily protect our bone mineral density, The Natural Products Association (NPA) criticized the new study, stating that the researchers have ignored other scientific evidences and “medical guidance from around the world”. NPA researchers also say that a combination of vitamins is more likely to be beneficial (e.g. Vitamin D + Calcium + Vitamin K). That is because our bodies are a much more complex system that requires more than one type of vitamin supplementation to help maintain its health.

Vitamin D helps our body to absorb Calcium, whilst Vitamin K makes the absorbed Calcium stay in the bones, preventing it from building up in our arteries*.

*Calcium deposits in the walls of arteries are part of the process of accumulating plaque, called atherosclerosis. Calcium deposit in our arteries are can be a sign of coronary artery disease (Read more about the dangers of Calcium built-up in our arteries).

This article is based on  articles published in News & Analysis on Supplements, Health and Nutrition – Asia Pacific (16th of October ).

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