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22.12.2008


Vitamin D extends your life expectancy

For years scientists hoped that anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E contributed to living a longer life. That was in the period that the antioxidant theory still held water. The theory broke down when it emerged that pills containing high amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins actually have slightly negative health effects.

But this doesn't mean that vitamin supplements have no future. A meta-study done by French cancer researchers Philippe Autier and Sara Gandini shows otherwise. The researchers did a meta-study on data from 18 trials involving nearly 60,000 people.

The studies were originally done to asses the effect of vitamin D on the prostate or the skeleton, but the two cancer researchers looked at something else: they calculated the test subjects' risk of mortality. And they discovered that vitamin D supplements reduce the mortality risk by seven percent.


Vitamin D extends your life expectancy


The average length of the trials was just under six years. Doses were as high as two thousand units or fifty micrograms of vitamin D per day, but the average dose was about five hundred units or 12.5 micrograms per day. The researchers discovered that this low dosage reduces the mortality risk as much as the high doses of two thousand units per day.

Vitamin D extends your life expectancy
Strictly speaking the lower doses were actually slightly better. Doses of three hundred to eight hundred units of vitamin D per day reduce the mortality risk by eight percent instead of seven percent.

Trials in which the test subjects were given vitamin D but not calcium were slightly more successful than trials in which test subjects were given both components. Without calcium, vitamin D reduced the mortality risk by nine percent instead of seven percent.

The researchers are not yet able to say exactly how vitamin D works. One theory they have suggested is that vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer.

Sources:
Arch Intern Med. 2007 Sep 10;167(16):1730-7.