Industry hits back at ‘nonsense’ vitamin D-heart health study

Related tags American heart association Vitamin d Dietary supplement

Industry hits back at ‘nonsense’ vitamin D-heart health study
Research that found high-dose vitamin D users were more likely to have ‘heart flutters’ has been dismissed by a leading supplier.

Presented this week at an American Heart Association (AHA) congress, the Utah-based researchers led by Dr T Jared Bunch, from the Intermountain Medical Center, found those with high levels of vitamin D (above 100 nanograms per 100ml) were 2.5 times more likely to suffer atrial fibrillation (heart fluttering).

In a statement headlined, ‘Conversion Errors and Vitamin D Nonsense’, supplier DSM said the unpublished research was flawed in its measurement methodology and would struggle to pass peer review.

“Thedata presented at the American Heart Association meetingneeds to be dismissed until the scientists check their serum 25(OH)D values for analytical or mathematical errors,”​ DSM said.

“Vitamin D status is determined by measuring serum 25(OH)D levels.Clinical values for vitamin D are typically reported asconventional units (ng/L) or SI units (nmol/L). To convert from conventional to SI units, one multiplies ng/L x 2.5 = nmol/L.”

“Dr Bunch and associates did not use either accepted standard. They used a different denominator – ng per 100 mL. Thenumbers presented at the American Heart Association meetingdo not make sense.”

The company pointed to two other studies - Rienstra and associates​ and Vacek and colleagues​ - that revealed heart benefits from vitamin D consumption.

Most people have inadequate vitamin D status and would benefit from a vitamin D3 dietary supplement,”​ it said.

The new research took blood samples from more than 130,000 people.

Dr Bunch warned: "Patients don't think of vitamins and supplements as drugs. But any vitamin or supplement that is touted as 'healing' or 'natural' is a drug and will have effects that are both beneficial and harmful.Just like any therapy, vitamins need to be taken for the right reasons and at the right doses."

But widespread vitamin D deficiencies has many medical professionals recommending supplementation to combat bone and heart disease, diabetes and other health related health issues especially among children, the elderly, those who receive little sunlight, have dark skin or pregnant or lactating women.

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VDC, LE, et al

Posted by Cwolf,

1. VDC interviewed them and they conceded their news release had a typo re ng/dL (as did the industry comment re ng/L).

2. Abstract at


4. It's always risky going from an abstract. This is a retrospective observational study. That means it suggests relationships but does not prove them.

The good news is they showed no AF association between 0-ng/ml and <101 ng/ml. And demonstrated multiple disease associations <20 ng/ml.

The sample was 132,000 folks divided into 6 categories: 0-20 ng/ml, 21-40 ng/ml, 61-80 ng/ml , 81-100 ng/ml, and >100 ng/ml.

"AF was diagnosed in 1.7%, 1.4%, 1.4%, 1.7%, 0.8%, and 3.8% ..."

There are several things we don't know.

Don't know the number of people in each group.

Don't know the 25OHD distribution in the over 100 ng/ml group. If the 6th group range was 101-200 with a group mean of 175, might you see the findings differently?

Don't know the other micronutrient levels. Low magnesium, for example, might contribute to AF.

We know from other research that vit D intoxication appears around 150 ng/ml. Usually that is a probability statement, so that means there is some individual variability.

We also know that some folks like lifeguards typically have 25OHD around 100+ ng/ml at summer's end with no problems.

I realize this is inappropriately used math, but the average AF across the 6 groups was 1.8%. Across the first 5 was 1.4%. So, group 6 AF dx increased by 2-2.4%. If the >100 ng/ml sample was 291, that's 6-7 people. The total AF dx was in theory 2,376.

AF rate is as much as 5% amongst older folks >65.

So, is this the end of the world? Is the sky falling? Are people dropping like flies? 7 people among 2,376?

You'll note the lowest AF rate was the 80-100 ng/ml group.

I'm not defending a 100 ng/ml serum level (nobody recommends that). I'm just suggesting there are lots of open questions. Any D level has to be evaluated in context; reductions of falls and fractures, decreased cancers, decreased CVD, etc.

Given how difficult it is to get your serum D above 100 ng/ml, and how few folks are that high, and the small impact, I'm not quite ready to barricade my doors and prepare for a zombie attack.

Of course, too much of anything is bad (love, sex, water, or D).

"Study reports drinking a quart of vodka/day causes headaches. News at 11."

5. An Life Extension alert stated:

"The data corroborates what was previously published showing that those with higher vitamin D blood levels have substantially lower risks of degenerative disease. For example, those whose 25-hydroxyvitamin D level ranged from 61–80 ng/mL had a 52% reduction in diabetes risk compared to those with deficient levels (below 20 ng/mL).1

Those whose 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ranged 81–100 ng/mL had a 36% reduction in hypertension incidence when measured against the deficient group. Compared to people in the deficient range, those with higher blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had significantly lower risk of heart failure, depression, coronary artery disease, kidney failure and prior stroke.1"

"As the population ages, an increasing percentage develops an irregular rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart called atrial fibrillation. It is the most common type of heart arrhythmia and approximately 5% of persons over 65 years of age are expected to be diagnosed with it.2"

"It is interesting to note that in patients with excess amounts (greater than 100 ng/mL) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the study presented at the American Heart Association conference, a significant increase in hypothyroidism (sluggish thyroid function) was noted by the researchers. While hyperthyroidism (hyperactive thyroid function) is a well-known contributing factor in atrial fibrillation, in fact hypothyroidism is an underappreciated cause of heart disease, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation. The high prevalence of hypothyroidism in those with excess 25-hydroxyvitamin D represents an underappreciated risk factor for atrial fibrillation in this observational trial. In other words, it may have been hypothyroidism that caused the increased incidence of atrial fibrillation and not the vitamin D.5-7 We nonetheless continue to recommend that members keep 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 100 ng/mL."

6. It is basically too early to jump to any conclusion.

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Units will always get you

Posted by J Chan,

I think the rebuttal also used wrong units. Should be ng/mL, NOT ng/L.

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Greater than 100 ng can cause heart problems - if. . .

Posted by Henry Lahore,

If you do not have enough Magnesium.
Vitamin D uses up Magnesium, and if you do not have enough Magnesium there have been many papers documenting fibrillation and other heart problems.

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