Exploring chronic disease
9 Mar 2008
A week ago, yet another study was published that casts serious doubt on a long-standing consensus among mainstream doctors and researchers – namely the idea if people are given extra vitamin D they will absorb more calcium, thus strengthening their bones.
In a paper published in the Journal of Bone Mineral Research titled “Disease or No Disease?” researchers tested the effects of extra vitamin D on calcium absorption in a group of postmenopausal women. The women had been diagnosed with “vitamin D insufficiency” – a label given to those people mainstream medicine contends to have a “low” level of the secosteroid 25-D.
The researchers put the consensus to the test by tracking the amount of calcium absorbed (called fractional calcium absorption) after subjects were administered 50,000 IU of vitamin D daily (a ridiculously high amount!) for 15 days. During the study, subjects also consumed their typical diet along with (44)Ca– the number 44 refers to the isotope of Calcium being consumed– orally with breakfast and (42)Ca administered intravenously each day.
The team used a molecular technique called mass spectrometry to determine the amount of calcium in the subjects’ urine during the 15-day study period (urine samples were collected 24 hours a day). By keeping track of how much calcium each subject excreted, the team was able to subtract that amount from the level of the substance they ingested each day, allowing them to infer how much calcium had been absorbed by their bones.
The data revealed that the rise in fractional calcium absorption after subjects ingested such massive amounts of vitamin D increased by only a paltry 3%, with a margin of error of 1%.
According to the researchers, “in existing literature this small change in fractional calcium absorption does not associate with lower fracture rates nor consistently higher bone mass.”
Such results make it crystal clear that even if postmenopausal women are given huge doses of vitamin D, the secosteroid will have no impact on their bone mass. And if 50,000 IU a day of “vitamin” D can’t increase calcium absorption by a statistically significant amount, then the average person popping even copious amounts of vitamin D tablets in the name of helping their bones is literally pouring money down the drain. The average vitamin D tablet contains about 400 to 1000 IUs of vitamin D, meaning that a person would have to consume well over 50 tablets a day in order to ingest 50,000 IUs of the substance.
Hence the title of the team’s paper – “Disease or no disease?” Is vitamin D “insufficiency” really a problem?, the researchers ask. Are low levels of vitamin D something that should remedied or is it possible that levels are low for a reason, rendering supplementation useless and unnecessary?
The answer to their questions lies in biomedical research Trevor Marshall’s recentBioEssays paper, which explains how the low levels of vitamin D observed in women with bone loss and other chronic diseases are a result rather than acause of the disease process. Vitamin D “insufficiency” is simply an indicator of Th1 disease, not a problem that needs to be remedied by supplementation. Imagine how the incidence of chronic disease would drop if all of mainstream medicine were able to embrace this alternate hypothesis.
Amy Proal graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a degree in biology. While at Georgetown, she wrote her senior thesis on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Marshall Protocol.