Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Confusion on Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation

Doesn't it just drive you nuts when within a day or two, major news stories come out about vitamins and supplements, but they contradict each other? I have the suspicion, which I can't prove of course, that there are pharma industry men and women in suits locked in a room somewhere trying to figure out a way to sabotage clinical trials that show a benefit to dietary supplements.

Today, we can read clinical trials which say that Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are great for postmenopausal women in order to keep weight off. Then, later in the day, we get the news that Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation may cause a certain brain lesion. What can you do about this? Of course, you must make sure and ask your MD, Naturopath or Chiropractor about the right level of these nutrients for you. Trust your doc -- he or she is on your side.

Below are snippets of each -- more detail is linked to the headline of today's post.

Postmenopausal women who take calcium and vitamin D supplements may gain less weight than those who do not, according to a report in the May 14 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The benefit is greater in those who had not previously been getting the daily recommended amount of calcium.

“Because weight loss or prevention of weight gain is likely to have significant health benefits for middle-aged women, early to middle menopause may be a critical period of life in which to slow the trajectory of weight gain,” the authors note as background information in the article. Some evidence suggests that calcium and vitamin D may play a role in effective weight management. These nutrients may stimulate the breakdown of fat cells and suppress the development of new ones.

And literally within hours, here's additional and conflicting information on another study:

Seniors who consume high levels of calcium and vitamin D are much more likely to have larger brain lesions that can lead to cognitive impairment, depression or stroke, new research reveals.

The study authors point out that brain lesions of various sizes are not uncommon, even among healthy elders. However, the observation that the overall amount of brain matter affected by lesions goes up with vitamin intake is fueling concerns about a possible connection.

"This is one of the first studies to examine the relationship between diet and brain lesions," said study author Martha E. Payne, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with the Neuropsychiatric Imaging Research Laboratory at Duke University, in Durham, N.C.


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