Vitamin D3 may improve survival among women

Vitamin D3 may improve survival among older women, particularly those who are institutionalized, according to a meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Review.

MedPage Today reported that “Investigators found that “the supplement was associated with a 6% lower risk of death over an average follow up of two years, although when given in combination with calcium increased the risk of kidney stones.”

However, “other forms of vitamin D – vitamin D2, as well as the active metabolites alfacalcidol and calcitriol – had no effects on mortality.”

Although researchers have largely accepted mounting evidence that vitamin D plays a key role in bone health and forestalls falls and fractures, debate rages over whether supplementation can decrease the risk of non-skeletal problems including heart disease, cancer, and death.

They also found that supplementation was particularly beneficial for patients who were vitamin D deficient to begin with.

Also, doses below 800 IU a day – the recommended by the Institute of Medicine for patients over 70 – significantly decreased mortality (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.97, P=0.005), while higher doses did not.

FYI, here’s my current protocol for testing and supplementing vitamin D:

I offer a 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OH vit D) blood test for ALL patients during their preventive medicine exams – including teens and young adults. If the 25OH vit D level is below 30, the patient may either:

  1.  Take a prescription tablet (Drisdol) containing 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 weekly for 12 weeks, or
  2.  Take 2000 – 4000 IU of over-the-counter vitamin D3 daily for 12 weeks,

Then, I recheck the level, aiming for a level above 30.

Here are some of my recent blogs on vitamin D:




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2 Responses to Vitamin D3 may improve survival among women

  1. Kelly Carroll says:

    What about after checking levels after 12 weeks? Do you advise those who were previously deficient to continue taking vitamin D3? If so, at what dose? And for how long? And finally, for those who have a history of having a low 25OH vit D, what is your advice for continued monitoring?

  2. Kelly, the recommendations for daily dosing vary from 600 IU to 2000 IU per day, taken with the largest meal of the day. If someone is a higher risk or has been harder to replace in the past, I’ll recommend 2000 to 4000 IU per day. Once replaced, I’ll monitor every 6-12 months. Hope this helps.

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