Vitamin D Is Not Harmful to Adolescents
Perhaps you’ve seen the headlines:
- “Vitamin D may be harmful to obese teenagers”1
- “Extra vitamin D can increase cholesterol in teens”2
- “Vitamin D increases cholesterol levels in teens, study confirms”3
Based on these headlines and countless others like them, you might think that vitamin D is dangerous. In fact, these headlines are grossly misleading, as are so many medical headlines these days. The media picks up a story from the press wire services, does no research on its own, gets the essence of the study wrong, and then decides to lead with headline that caters to fearmongering—just to drive readers to the article.
So what are the facts behind the study?
The study itself was published in the August issue of Pediatric Obesity.4 As stated, the purpose of the study was to determine whether treatment with vitamin D3 improves endothelial function in obese adolescents. The reason behind the study is that obesity in children is associated with both vitamin D deficiency and endothelial dysfunction—and it was not known if treatment with vitamin D improved endothelial function in obese adolescents.
So far so good. And now the problems.
First, it only involved nineteen obese adolescents, 13-18 years of age, which is a small sample size. But that’s not the major problem. The bigger problem, by far, is that they decided to test the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation by treating the adolescents with 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 orally once a month for 3 months.
Keep in mind that the current RDI for children is 400-600 IU a day. So we’re talking about a dosage of as much as 250 times the recommended daily dose. Yes, they are only administering it once a month, but no doctor or nutritionist recommends getting your vitamin D intake in monthly massive doses. It would literally overwhelm and shock the body--particularly the liver, which has to process the massive influx of oil.
Is it any wonder that when administered this way, vitamin D showed no benefit and instead raised cholesterol levels?
In fact, this would make vitamin D remarkably benign. Think what would happen to your body in a single day if you took other nutrients this way. For example:
- 16,000 Oz of water (64 Oz X 250) once a month
- 12,500 g or 441 Oz of protein or 27 pounds (50 g x 250) once a month
You get the idea. You’d be dead in a day.
- The intent of the study had validity
- The study’s protocols were bizarre to say the least
- The press didn’t even look at the study before running their stories
- They chose their headlines to scare people into clicking on them
- Or as the police are wont to say, “Move along. There’s nothing to see here.”
And seriously, why wouldn't you just use 3,100 IU a day for the study, which provide 99,000-102,300 IU a month without stressing the liver?
- 1. Stephen Feller. "Vitamin D may be harmful for obese teenagers." UPI Aug 17, 2015. (Accessed 18 Aug 2015.) http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2015/08/17/Vitamin-D-may-be-harmful-for-obese-teenagers/3081439813446/
- 2. "Extra vitamin D pills can increase cholesterol in teens." Business Standard August 15, 2015. (Accessed 18 Aug 2015.) http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/extra-vitamin-d-pills-can-increase-cholesterol-in-teens-115081500291_1.html
- 3. Lois D. Medrano. "Vitamin D increases cholesterol levels in teens, study confirms." Latinos Health Aug 17, 2015. (Accessed 18 Aug 2015.) http://www.latinoshealth.com/articles/8631/20150817/vitamin-d-increases-cholesterol-levels-teens-study-confirms.htm
- 4. Javed A, Kullo IJ, Babu Balagopal P, Kumar S. "Effect of vitamin D3 treatment on endothelial function in obese adolescents." Pediatr Obes. 2015 Aug 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26273791