Does vitamin D really work?

Todd A. Forman, MD
Family Medicine

Vitamin D might work!!! And I stress MIGHT!!! We have lots of interest and preliminary research on this little vitamin, yet we still don't really know what the health benefits are or what dose we should be recommending or even what levels are appropriate for our bodies. I work in sunny Southern California and I would say about 95% of my patients have a low 25 (OH) Vitamin D level when I order it...guess what...I stopped ordering it routinely! Physicians take an oath of "first do no harm." Until I know that Vitamin D absolutely has positive health benefits (e.g. for bones, probably, for balance, probably) that outweigh the potential risks (e.g. increases in risk of cancer and heart disease, potentially) then I will refrain from prescribing it routinely. We won't know for several years what the real risks and benefits are. Until then, doctors (and drug stores) are recommending Vitamin D in the obscure fog of theoretical science.


Yes, and it is estimated that about one billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D in their system. Doctors are even noticing an increase in rickets (a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency) in children in developing countries. It is even thought that to have insufficient amounts of vitamin D may result in an increase of chronic diseases such as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and some cancers. It may also increase the incidence of infectious diseases like flu and tuberculosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.