Alert: Faulty Study Spreads Misinformation About Vitamin D - Save Our Bones

A recently published study has erroneously concluded that Vitamin D does not prevent fractures. Media outlets worldwide have grabbed onto this headline and published it uncritically.

Today, we'll debunk this study, so you understand exactly where and how it went wrong.

Then you'll learn about the steps you need to take to ensure Vitamin D provides its full bone-protective effect.

A Vitamin D Study That Missed The Mark

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) is based on an analysis of data from a prior study called the Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial (VITAL).

This prior study, VITAL, involved 25,871 participants, about half of whom were women 55 years of age or older. They were divided into two groups. One group took 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, and the other took a placebo.

Over five years, the participants completed annual follow-up questionnaires about their health, medical events, and how consistently they took the Vitamin D supplement. That follow-up questionnaire prompted participants to report fractures they experienced during the study period.

The secondary study published in NEJM used this data about fractures to compare the fracture rates between the Vitamin D group and the placebo group. They found there was not a statistically significant difference, and used the data to proclaim that Vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the risk of fracture.1

However, that conclusion is fundamentally flawed.

Synopsis

The study we're examining today is based on data from a prior study in which 25,871 participants took either 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 or a placebo each day for five years. Participants completed yearly questionnaires about certain health information, including fractures. The two groups didn't have significantly different rates of fracture, leading the researchers to the flawed conclusion that Vitamin D supplementation didn’t prevent fractures.

Why This Study's Conclusion Doesn't Add Up

Unfortunately, not every published study provides a useful or even reasonable conclusion. Often that's because the methodology of the study includes mistakes and oversights. This study is one of them. Let's have a look at some of the reasons why this study's methodology didn't provide adequate evidence to reach the conclusions claimed by the study authors.

  • The study did not test all of the participants' Vitamin D levels before, during, or after the study period. That means the researchers didn't know whether the participants had a deficiency that could be corrected by supplementation in the first place.
  • It is impossible to know the impact of reaching sufficient vitamin D levels in a group of participants who may or may not already have sufficient vitamin D levels at the start of the study. For example, if most of the participants were Vitamin D deficient, then the supplementation may have not been sufficient.
  • More than 10 percent of the placebo group reported they were independently taking additional Vitamin D supplements. That compromises the placebo group and makes all of the results inconclusive.1
  • This study makes a classic mistake of the medical establishment: a failure to consider the body holistically. Vitamin D doesn't have its full impact in isolation, it works synergistically with other micronutrients. Studying whether Vitamin D in isolation has an effect ignores the fact that Vitamin D, like other micronutrients, works in coordination with other micronutrients to have its full effect.
  • This study doesn't consider the diet or exercise habits of participants. These additional factors greatly impact whether Vitamin D supplementation is useful. Similar to supplementing with other micronutrients, these factors interact to create benefits. One action in isolation can’t impactfully improve overall health and bone health.

Synopsis

The study made several mistakes that invalidate its conclusions. The researchers had no data about participants' Vitamin D levels before, during, or after the study period; participants in the placebo group were taking Vitamin D independently; and the authors don't consider the interaction between Vitamin D and other micronutrients, diet, and exercise.

Vitamin D Doesn't Work In Isolation

The vitamins and minerals in your diet and supplements are not isolated actors, each performing a different role in your health. They interact in complex and profound ways that result in a healthy body and mind.

There are many well-documented examples of the way Vitamin D functions primarily in coordination with other micronutrients. The most well-known example for Savers is the way Vitamin D and calcium work together. Without Vitamin D, our bodies are unable to absorb an adequate quantity of calcium to build our bones. Many studies have shown that without Vitamin D, a calcium supplement simply isn't effective.2

Similarly, research has found that Vitamin D and Vitamin K interact with each other alongside calcium to have a larger combined impact on bone mineral content than they would separately.3

In fact, Vitamin D is a well-known collaborator. Here are some of the other elements and compounds that Vitamin D works with to improve your health:

  • Selenium – This trace mineral enhances the levels of Vitamin D active in your cells, which supports immune and cardiac function.
  • Zinc – Similar to its relationship with calcium, Vitamin D improves the body's ability to absorb zinc, so it can play it many roles including immune support and anti-inflammatory action.
  • Boron – Our body uses boron to increase the enzymes that activate Vitamin D, and they work together to decrease bone loss and balance hormones.
  • Magnesium – Vitamin D allows magnesium to be absorbed in the gut, and in turn, magnesium regulates the ability of Vitamin D to function in cells.
  • Melatonin – Vitamin D works with melatonin to protect the body against viruses.
  • Probiotics – Vitamin D aids probiotics to protect the intestinal tract and promoting gut health.

Vitamin D, like other micronutrients, doesn't act alone. Along with other supplements, a varied diet, and regular exercise the Save Institute recommends the standard recommendation of 2000 IU per day of Vitamin D.

Unlike the study we examined today, we also recommend checking your vitamin D levels so you can adjust your intake dosage accordingly. Someone deficient would need to take more than the daily standard recommendation.

Synopsis

Vitamin D provides a wide variety of health benefits through its interaction with other vitamins, minerals, and compounds. Notably, it works with calcium, Vitamin K, selenium, zinc, boron, magnesium, melatonin, and probiotics to perform various useful functions. Take 2000 IU of Vitamin D daily, or more if testing reveals deficient Vitamin D levels.

What This Means To You

Vitamin D is a crucial part of preventing fractures and rebuilding bone. But it can't do it alone. We already knew that.

That's why the Osteoporosis Reversal Program recommends a full slate of Foundation Supplements to ensure you're getting the vitamins and minerals you need in addition to those in your varied and bone-healthy pH-balanced diet.

Don't let simplistic and short-sighted studies distract you from the big picture. A holistic approach to health allows you to account for the complexities of the human body and to provide your body with everything you need to live the full life you deserve.

References

1 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2202106

2 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629074307.htm

3 https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/importance-of-calcium-vitamin-d-and-vitamin-k-for-osteoporosis-prevention-and-treatment/C30A29EDA3064CC8313079BAF4C486C6

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24 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Charleen Gorbet

    I read your article about sodas. I don’t drink them, but my Dr recommended drinking tonic water for leg cramps. it’s fizzy, is that a problem? I use a magnesium cream when I have cramps and find that helps a lot.

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Charleen, an article published by the Harvard Medical School explains the following:

      “Tonic water contains no more than 83 mg of quinine per liter—a much lower concentration than the 500 to 1,000 mg in the therapeutic dose of quinine tablets. Drinking a few ounces of tonic water shouldn’t be harmful, but it isn’t likely to prevent your leg cramps.”

      There are other better ways to prevent them, as explained here:

      https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-prevent-leg-cramps-and-treat-them-at-home/

      I hope this helps!

  2. cindy

    I take 3000 ml of D3 How do you know if you are taking too much other than a blood test.? I have taken D3 for years and will be 80 yrs this month. I am in pretty good shape and tend ti feel off balance at times

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Cindy, a blood test is the best and perhaps the only way to know how much Vitamin D3 you should take, so next time you do your yearly check-up, ask your doctor to include the test. Every laboratory offers it, so it’s not complicated 🙂

  3. Ana cruz

    My Dr. Told me it’s no good to have the viD no higher than 50. Because the body blood becomes toxic. How true is that bc I read u can have it at least between 60-90. Also it’s true u have to take vitD with K2 for better absorption. I need a reply. Thanks always gets ur articles very informative and interesting info to learn.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Ana, the Medical Establishment considers that blood levels of Vitamin D above 30 ng/ml are sufficient, but studies have shown that for optimal health, it is best to achieve levels between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

      The Institute for Functional Medicine recommends the following supplement dose based on measured blood levels of vitamin D:

      25(OH) D Level Supplement Dose
      Less than 10 ng/ml 10,000 IU/day
      10-20 ng/ml 10,000 IU/day
      20-30 ng/ml 8,000 IU/day
      30-40 ng/ml 5,000 IU/day
      40-50 ng/ml 2,000 IU/day

      And vitamins D3 and K2 work together to strengthen bones, and when taking Vitamin D, it’s also important to get adequate amounts of magnesium to ensure you can absorb calcium effectively.

  4. Janine

    How sad! What an indictment on Western Medical System, and researchers and the medical and media ‘professions’ and especially on the publishing journal. For shame! I can only see a disaster ensuing.

    Thank you Vivian for your marvellous work !

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Your words will surely resonate with our community, Janine! And you’re very welcome!

  5. Heather Washington

    My osteoporosis is caused by idiopathic Hypercalciuria. I’ve tried high potassium low salt diet for this with no success. Have you had success with any other treatments?

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Dear Heather,

      We’re happy to help you with your question, so please check your email inbox within the next 24-48 hours.

      In excellent health,
      Customer Support

  6. Vida

    My vitamin k is very high ..and doctor recommended not to take multi vitamin which has k in it .what should i take with my vitamin d to get more absorption?
    Also when i take high dose vitamin d ..i get migraines headaches.
    Thanks for all these info 🙏

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Vida! And in order to increase the absorption of Vitamin D3, take it with a meal that contains fats and magnesium. Magnesium is a Foundation Supplement, and in the ORP you’ll find a list of the top magnesium-containing foods, such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, and avocado. Try taking 2000 IU a day and then check your blood levels to see if that’s the appropriate dose.

  7. Sue

    Thank you for all your informative articles, Vivian. For years, I have taken 2,000 IU of D3. I stopped about a year ago when I started K2 which also contains 800 IU of D3. My D level is 43.2 so I am sufficient. Is there any need to increase my D3 supplementation if I am sufficient taking 800 IU?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Sue. While your D levels are within the acceptable range for the Medical Establishment, functional medicine doctors recommend bringing those levels up between 50 to 90. So I suggest supplementing with at least 2000 IU of D3 and doing a blood test after 4 to 6 months.

  8. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re very welcome, Ita!

  9. Daniel Arnaud

    2000 IUs are barely sufficient. Perhaps 5000 IUs with K2 is better. The IOM recommendation of 600 IUs was flawed by a mathematical error and shoud have been 6000 IUs.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Daniel, as we write in the above article, the dosage should be adjusted to the blood test results (preferably done twice a year) of 1,25-Dihydroxy D. This blood test is used for assessing vitamin D status and most accurately reflects the body’s vitamin D stores. If levels are low, then most certainly the dosage should be adjusted accordingly, and likewise if levels are too high. We must keep in mind that Vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in the body.

  10. Marlo

    I take 2,000 if Vitamin D with K2 and Calcium.
    Osteporosis. Four years…most of all i exercise and lift weights, which is crucial for bones and your heart.
    Im 71..true osteo is good, but dont like ashagwanda.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re on the right track, Marlo! And there are many organic calcium supplements without ashwagandha 🙂

  11. Luc

    Thanks for the insight. Have you though of writing the authors of the study about this?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Luc! And great idea! I’ll share this article with the study authors.

  12. Jan

    Seen these articles makes me cross 😡 I know who I trust. Thank you 👏

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Jan, let’s all be thankful that we know better 🙂 And you’re welcome!

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