It’s true; you probably don’t need supplements, ONLY IF…
…you have a serene life with little stress, eat a superb, organic diet with pleasure, exercise daily, filter your water, aren’t exposed to lots of chemicals, get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, don’t take any medications that can deplete nutrients, rarely partake in any nutrient depleting or energy robbing substances, and have optimal digestion, assimilation, and a perfectly balanced microbiome.
Hmmm, I know about two people in that category…
Therefore, when I see these studies, bad studies, that demonize supplements, I get a little annoyed. This is especially true when new prescription drugs have a 1-in-5 chance of causing a serious negative reaction. Furthermore, according to an article from Harvard University Center of Ethics, “The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths; so together, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year.” In 2013, there were zero deaths from supplements.
So, when I saw this headline this week, “Vitamin D, calcium supplements do not improve
menopausal symptoms,” being annoyed was a little bit of an understatement.
Here are just some of the issues I found with the study:
1. Calcium carbonate was used. This form is not bioavailable.
2. 400 mg of Vitamin D3 was used. This dose is not sufficient for most people in order to raise their levels of Vitamin D and assist with rebalancing a deficiency.
3. According to Science Daily’s report from the authors, “Our study suggests that women should not rely on vitamin D and calcium supplements to relieve menopausal symptoms, but there are important caveats,” said Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH, lead author and investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon. “The average age of the women at the start of our study was 64, but the average age of menopause is 51, and it’s around that time that the most severe symptoms usually occur. “If we want to understand vitamin D’s effects on the most severe symptoms of menopause, we need to do a study in younger women,” added LeBlanc.
4. The study didn’t have full adherence:
“We defined adherence as use of 80% or more of the study medication and assessed it by weighing returned pill bottles at annual visits. In year 1, the proportion of women in the CaD trial taking 80% or more of the study medication was 60% overall”
5. There were more current smokers in the intervention.
Need I go on…
What happens when supplements are used appropriately?
According to the Center for Responsible nutrition, “Frost & Sullivan conducted a systematic review of scientific studies that focused on studies that looked at the relationship between calcium and vitamin D supplementation and the risk of an osteoporosis-attributed event. The firm then projected the rates of osteoporosis-attributed medical events across U.S. women over the age of 55 with osteoporosis and applied a cost benefit analysis to determine the cost savings if people in this targeted population took calcium and vitamin D supplements at preventive intake levels.” What did they find?
“The economic report explained that calcium and vitamin D supplements are already being used by 29 percent of U.S. women over the age of 55, which would mean that between 2013 and 2020 there is the possibility of over $12 billion in health care cost savings. With 71 percent of this population not taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, however, there are still billions of dollars more in savings yet to be realized, according to the report.”
One of the most important caveats was said brilliantly by my mentor, “Why would they use calcium and vitamin D to treat hot flashes anyway?”
True… I would think more of modulating hormonal balance, blood sugar, inflammation, food sensitivities, liver detoxification, SNPs.
So, it would make sense that vitamin D and calcium would be beneficial for bone health, but for hot flashes post-menopausal, maybe not so much.
My plea to researchers of supplements:
1. Use bioavailable supplements
2. Test for deficiency first
3. Use the supplement indicated for the symptom
4. Check dosage
5. Take into account absorption and biochemical individuality in usage of nutrients
Wanna learn more? Read about how food can be an addiction here.
Light, D. New Prescription Drugs: A Major Health Risk With Few Offsetting Advantages. Harvard University Center for Ethics. June 27, 2014. http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/new-prescription-drugs-major-health-risk-few-offsetting-advantages
Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, McMillan N, Ford M. 2013 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 31st Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology.2014; 52: 1032-1283. DOI: 10.3109/15563650.2014.987397.
Marcia L. Stefanick et al. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation do not influence menopause-related symptoms: Results of the Women’s Health Initiative Trial. Maturitas, June 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.04.007
Kaiser Permanente. Vitamin D, calcium supplements do not improve menopausal symptoms. ScienceDaily. June 1, 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150601104533.htm.
Paul Veugelers, John Ekwaru. A Statistical Error in the Estimation of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin D. Nutrients, 2014; 6 (10): 4472 DOI: 10.3390/nu6104472
New Economic Report Points to Additional Reasons to Supplement with Calcium and Vitamin D. Center for Responsible Nutrition. December 14, 2014. http://www.crnusa.org/CRNfoundation/HCCS/CRNF09-PR14-CalVitD-HCCSReport120914.html