The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Might vitamin D prevent death?

    In this Cochrane review, researchers at the University of Nis, in Serbia, assessed the beneficial and harmful effects of vitamin D for prevention of mortality in adults.

    First, the details.

    • 50 studies with 94,148 participants provided data for the mortality analyses.
    • Studies that compared vitamin D at any dose, duration, and route of administration vs placebo or no treatment were included in the review.
    • Vitamin D could have been administered in the following formulations:
      • Vitamin D (vitamin D(3) (cholecalciferol)
      • Vitamin D(2) (ergocalciferol))
      • 1alpha-hydroxyvitamin D (alfacalcidol; an active metabolite of Vitamin D)
      • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol; Rocaltrol).
    • Most studies included elderly women (older than 70 years).
    • Vitamin D was administered for about 2 years.

    And, the results.

    • Overall, vitamin D was associated with decreased mortality.
    • Only vitamin D(3) decreased mortality significantly.
      • 161 individuals would have to be treated to prevent 1 additional death.
    • Vitamin D(3) combined with calcium increased the risk of nephrolithiasis (kidney stones).
    • Alfacalcidol and calcitriol increased the risk of high levels of calcium in the blood.
    • Data on health-related quality of life and health economics were inconclusive.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Vitamin D in the form of vitamin D(3) seems to decrease mortality in predominantly elderly women who are mainly in institutions and dependent care.”

    But be careful, vitamin D(3) combined with calcium significantly increases the risk of kidney stones. And, alfacalcidol and calcitriol significantly increased blood levels of calcium. Their use should be monitored by a healthcare professional.

    11/16/11 21:40 JR

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