Vitamin D Supplements Provide Important Benefits for Bone Health, Immunity, and More—New Study Should Be Viewed in Context of Overall Research

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2012In response to the study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Effect of Vitamin D3 Supplementation on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Healthy Adults,” by David Murdoch, M.D., et al, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement.

Statement by Duffy MacKay, ND, Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, CRN:

“There is a very strong body of scientific evidence that supports both the benefits and need for people to supplement with vitamin D, specifically for bone health. Vitamin D works in combination with calcium to help reduce falls and fractures, and increase bone mineral density.  There is also emerging research that shows vitamin D may support brain, heart, and immune function.

In fact, last month, a study published in the journal Pediatrics demonstrated that supplementing with vitamin D reduced the number of colds by 50 percent in children who were vitamin D deficient. Although this new study in JAMA, which looked at 322 healthy adults with normal vitamin D levels, did not find similar results, looking at both studies raises the important point that consumers should not make decisions based solely on the ‘study du jour’. There are limitations to all studies, and while this new study provides solid information to be added to the scientific literature, it should not be considered a panacea for whether or not to supplement with vitamin D.

Outside of fortified milk and dairy products, it is difficult to get recommended amounts of vitamin D from food alone. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that can be produced by your body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But given the fact that consumers are continually advised to wear sunscreen high in SPF to avoid skin cancer, supplementing with vitamin D is a rationale, appropriate way to get vitamin D. The JAMA study used a short-term drug intervention of high-dose vitamin D. 

Doctors and medical researchers have hunted for a cure for the common cold for centuries. Still today there is no scientifically validated solution. Ample scientific evidence has demonstrated the absolute importance of vitamin D in normal immune responses, which is why it is no surprise that in this study there was not a statistically detectable difference between the placebo group and treatment group, which both started with near normal levels of vitamin D and both had normal responses to a cold.

Common sense combined with healthy lifestyle habits goes a long way. Our best advice for staying healthy is to practice healthy habits: eating a healthy diet, supplement as needed with vitamins, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. And just for good measure, you may want to add some chicken soup with lots of garlic every once in a while.”

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement manufacturers and ingredient 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 75+ manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit