Vitamin D Supplementation Has Substantiated Benefits for Bone Health and Beyond

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2013In response to a study, “Effects of Vitamin D Supplements on Bone Mineral Density: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” published today in The Lancet, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:

Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:
“The scientific literature supports that vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and bone density, and therefore the two nutrients work in combination to provide a protective effect for helping to prevent osteoporosis. One of the serious limitations of this meta-analysis was the lack of consideration of studies that looked at how vitamin D and calcium work together. For populations that are most vulnerable to vitamin D deficiencies and insufficiencies—especially older adults—getting vitamin D from food alone is particularly challenging, and so supplementation may be warranted. We have concerns that the author’s broad-based advice will do nothing but cause potentially dire consequences if people, particularly those at-risk for fracture, fail to obtain the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

We feel just as strongly that this meta-analysis not discourage healthy people from taking vitamin D for all the possible benefits. Beyond osteoporosis and bone health, vitamin D provides extensive benefits in other areas. The body of scientific literature, including new and emerging research, shows vitamin D plays an important role in cardiovascular health, immune health and diabetes; therefore, it is vital that doctors and other healthcare practitioners continue to test vitamin D levels. Because vitamin D is not easily obtained from food, and obtaining it through sunlight carries cancer risks, replenishing through supplementation is a safe and appropriate way to get vitamin D.

The Institute of Medicine recommends dietary intake for adults of 600-800 IU of vitamin D and 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily, and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies supplements containing combinations of certain nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D as useful in postmenopausal women who have low levels of these nutrients in their diets to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has an approved health claim for calcium, vitamin D and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis-related fractures in the U.S. cost an estimated $14 billion in 2012. They also place tremendous financial, mental and physical burdens on the individual. A new economic report from Frost and Sullivan found that over $12 billion in cumulative osteoporosis-attributed cost savings is potentially realizable, between 2013 and 2020, if U.S. women over the age of 55 diagnosed with osteoporosis were to use calcium and vitamin D dietary supplements at what the report identified as preventive intake levels. The daily cost per person in the targeted population to supplement would be $.16—not ‘expensive’ compared to the costs one, or the overall system, would incur if appropriate levels of vitamin D were not met. Supplementation is smart prevention.

If you have questions about how much vitamin D you need, talk with your doctor, or other healthcare practitioner.”

Note to the editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 100+ dietary supplement manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.