Two Recent Supplement Studies Merit Mentioning – Vitamin D and Glucosamine Sulfate

Two recent trials addressing commonly used supplements are worth noting as they exemplify pertinent and prevalent issues facing physicians and patients every day. One deals with vitamin D, the other with Glucosamine Sulfate.

The vitamin D study, published out of the University of California San Diego in Anticancer Research, is entitled “Meta-analysis of Vitamin D Sufficiency for Improving Survival of Patients with Breast Cancer.” In the trial, patients with the highest vitamin D levels had the best outcomes. This group had an average 25, OH-Vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml. The initiated should instantly recognize that this number lies on the lowest edge of a normal range for vitamin D. Yet, the press reported the following, “High vitamin D levels may increase breast cancer survival.” So what might an uninformed reader assume? Take large quantities of vitamin D to shield you from breast cancer, of course. This clearly is not at all what the study concluded. A more appropriate title for the press might have been, “Very low vitamin D levels associated with worse breast cancer outcomes.” Our takeaway message is probably to avoid very low levels of D. But, we should in no way infer that very high D levels protect us from cancer (or anything else for that matter). Some trials even suggest that very high D levels might be dangerous. Once again the ideal reaction to this single piece of evidence is simply to speak with your doctor. Have your vitamin D tested. If your level is very low, supplementation is likely in order. If your level is normal, probably no further action need be taken. The key though is not to act alone. This type of discussion is another opportunity to engage your physician and help develop your own brand of personalized medicine.

The second trial evaluated what was described by the press as a “new form of Glucosamine” – Glucosamine Sulfate. First, please understand that Glucosamine Sulfate has been available for decades. Being more costly than its counterpart, Glucosamine HCL, it is typically found in only superior products. For me the interesting aspect of this trial (published in The Annals of Rheumatologic Disease) is that in a double blind placebo controlled fashion (the purported king of clinical trials) Glucosamine Sulfate was shown to statistically significantly decrease joint space narrowing over a two-year follow-up period. Older studies had similar findings, and consequently for the past ten years I’ve recommended a Glucosamine Sulfate-containing joint product that I formulated for VitalRemedyMD called JointFormula (catchy name I know). I’ve received nearly universal patient reports of improvement in joint discomfort. Anecdotally, results have been most dramatic in the hands and knees. Many of those who take JointFormula have written notes of gratitude, thanking us for helping them avoid knee replacement surgery. Yet, some trials other than the above-mentioned have “proved” the worthlessness of Glucosamine. How do we explain this to our grateful patients? Placebo effect is surely a possibility. It is also possible that what works in one person might fail in another. And, we must always acknowledge that clinical trials are not the final word. We see enough discordance of conclusions among the trials; so by this observation alone we should know that trials are hardly ever truly “conclusive.” The lesson from this study is that there will always be conflicting results among clinical trials. The ultimate decisions regarding patient care always reside between patient and doctor. Trial results help guide doctors; they should not shackle them. And, patients should not be made to feel foolish for their beliefs, nor should doctors be made to feel unscientific for theirs. Instead, doctors need to continue “practicing” medicine as best as they can, and patients must remain their own most potent advocates for health and wellness.

Learn more about supplements and vitamins at www.vitalremedymd.com.

Comments { 0 }

Vitamin D – an Important Daily Vitamin

Hands and Sunset

I’ve felt for quite some time that vitamin D — and D3 in particular — should be an important component of a healthy individual’s daily vitamin intake, often in the form of supplementation.

As we learn more and more about the promising role of vitamin D, additional patients with D deficiencies are being identified. Unfortunately, vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods, so most of our vitamin D is produced in our bodies by the action of sunlight on the skin.

Aging decreases our synthesis of vitamin D
Most vitamin D is produced in our bodies when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. As humans age, however, we often lose the ability to manufacture adequate amounts of vitamin D.  Research indicates that vitamin D is important not only for proper absorption of calcium and the maintenance of bone health, but also for maintaining healthy joints, a healthy cardiovascular system and healthy moods. In addition, vitamin D plays an important role in regulating cell division and differentiation and supports immune system function through its effects on macrophages, natural killer cells (NK), and T cells. Scientific data indicate that vitamin D also has a role in helping to maintain breast, prostate, colon, and kidney health. In other words, its impact in our bodies is far-reaching.

Vitamin D3 more effective than D2
A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition* further supports my evidence-based belief that vitamin D3 is more effective than D2 (it can raise blood levels of vitamin D up to 70% better than D2). AJCN’s first-ever systematic review and meta-analysis comparing the effectiveness of the vitamin D forms supports the findings of many other researchers and studies.  (Note: vitamin D is found in two forms D3 or Cholecalciferol and D2, or Ergocalciferol. In contrast to Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol is not natural; it is a byproduct of irradiated fungi).

Check your vitamin D level
Ask your doctor to do a simple blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] that will provide the best measure of your vitamin D status. A 25(OH)D level of 40-50 ng/ml is currently thought to be optimal. If necessary, supplement with a daily multivitamin with adequate levels of vitamin D3 and then additional vitamin D3 as needed. A general rule of thumb is that your vitamin D level will rise 10 points for every 1,000 IU D3 taken daily.

Read that label
Look for the terms vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol on supplement labels. The D2 form of the vitamin (ergocalciferol) though widely used in fortification and supplements, is less potent and artificially derived.

Source:
*Study: “Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis1–3” — Laura Tripkovic, Helen Lambert, Kathryn Hart, Colin P Smith, Giselda Bucca, Simon Penson, Gemma Chope, Elina Hyppo ̈nen, Jacqueline Berry, Reinhold Vieth, and Susan Lanham-New

Learn more about the highest quality vitamins, minerals, and omega-3’s – created by a leading preventive cardiologist. vitalremedymd.com

Comments { 0 }