This article was written by Oliver Gillie on Nov 24th 2014. It is loaded with great information on the benefits of Vitamin D and how the sun is getting a bad rap. We need the sun, it is our friend, like everything in life, in moderation. The health care system is over run with sick people, mostly due to lack of exercise and sun shine. After I read his article I hesitantly read the comments, the first 4 comments where all positive feedback and life experiences from people that have different ailments.
People who stay inside have low sun exposure, low vitamin D (made in the skin when it is exposed to sunshine) and are at greater risk of several kinds of cancer. So it is a good idea to take vitamin D supplements, at least 2,000 units a day, especially in winter.
However, The Lancet, the world’s best-known medical journal, recently suggested in an editorial that most of the benefits of vitamin D advanced by scientific studies are a “myth”. It says that people tend to have low vitamin D when they are ill because they do not go outdoors very much.
This was also the view presented in papers published in The Lancet by two teams, Philippe Autier of the International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, and Mark Bolland of the Department of Medicine, University of Auckland. They argue that clinical trials of vitamin D have failed to show any clear benefit. However, most of the trials have used low doses of the vitamin. Professor Michael Holick, pioneer of vitamin D research at Boston University, says 4,000 units per day is required to give an optimum level of the vitamin in the blood, enough to prevent disease. A number of clinical trials relied on by The Lancet editorial and its authors used a daily dose of just 400 units.
The Lancet and its authors have also, in my view, used defective scientific reasoning based on what statisticians call a “type 2 error”. They have over-generalised a result that only has a narrow basis in fact. A negative result in a clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation in adults cannot be generalised because it cannot rule out damage caused by vitamin D deficiency many years earlier that is irreversible. Adult disease may be caused by deficiency of vitamin D occurring in childhood or teenage years and such disease may not be remedied by giving the vitamin later.
This is the case with rickets, a bone deformation in children caused by lack of both sunshine and vitamin D. Rickets may be corrected if vitamin D is given to a child. But once bones stop growing in adulthood deformities become fixed and cannot be changed by giving vitamin D. I have explained these errors in more detail in a peer-reviewed article in Public Health Nutrition (journals.cambridge.org/phn/vitaminD).
There is good evidence to suggest that a shortage of vitamin D in the womb and early life may be a cause of three serious diseases: multiple sclerosis, type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, and autism. Heart disease and a number of cancers are also linked to insufficient vitamin D at various life stages. This, at least, is the view of a large number of experts who have published their findings.
It can be difficult to decide where the truth lies when experts disagree, but not when, as in The Lancet’s vitamin D articles, the argument depends upon a basic statistical error.
**If you would like to read the comments from the original post of this article, you can find them here: