Evidence Backs Vitamin D as Longevity Booster

By Jancin, Bruce | Clinical Psychiatry News, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Evidence Backs Vitamin D as Longevity Booster


Jancin, Bruce, Clinical Psychiatry News


SNOWMASS, COLO. -- Mounting evidence strongly suggests routine vitamin D supplementation reduces all-cause mortality.

"We may finally have a vitamin that translates into greater longevity," declared Dr. Robert A. Vogel, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, at a conference sponsored by the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

Given the high likelihood that vitamin D supplementation provides a survival benefit, its demonstrated lack of harm, and the pervasiveness of vitamin D deficiency, it's now reasonable to routinely recommend taking a daily 400- to 1,000-IU vitamin [D.sub.3] supplement, he said at the conference, which was cosponsored by the American College of Cardiology.

He pointed to a meta-analysis by investigators at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, as a key piece of evidence. The investigators identified and analyzed 18 randomized trials of vitamin D supplementation with 57,311 generally healthy participants that included total mortality as a secondary end point; the primary end point was typically fracture risk. All-cause mortality during a mean 5.7 years of follow-up was reduced by a statistically significant 7% in subjects randomized to vitamin D. In studies in which the intervention lasted at least 3 years, the reduction in mortality from any cause was 8% (Arch. Intern. Med. 2007;167:1730-7).

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Edward Giovannucci called the findings "remarkable," adding that the results probably underestimate the true benefit in reducing mortality if vitamin D is important in influencing the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases. "Based upon the total body of evidence of health conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency, abetted with the results from this meta-analysis, a more proactive attitude to identify, prevent, and treat vitamin D deficiency should be part of standard medical care," said Dr. Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University, Boston.

Dr. Vogel noted that beyond vitamin D's well-established effects upon calcium and bone, the hormone vitamin also functions in gene regulation, regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, production of antibiotic peptides, and innate immunity.

Most foods contain little vitamin D; it's a vitamin that is dependent upon UVB exposure. Coronary heart disease events are more frequent in the winter and in cooler climates, where there is less sun exposure. …

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