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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Holiday Advice Includes Vitamin D and Calcium

By Michael McBurney

With end-of-year celebrations, it is easy to overconsume. Waistlines expand. Clothes tighten. And associated with these changes comes increased risk of non-communicable diseases – obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and others. Is there anything that we could feel good about eating? Or are the next few weeks only a time of resisting temptations?

Two new studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provide hope. Research suggests that vitamin D and calcium may play a role in the accumulation of abdominal fat mass. In an article authored by Rosenblum and colleagues, two parallel randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were conducted where 171 participants consumed 3 glasses (240 mL) of orange juice (regular or lite) daily with or without fortification (100 IU vitamin D and 350 mg calcium per serving) for 16 wk. Volunteers consuming the fortified juices had greater losses of visceral abdominal fat.

The second study by Zitterman and associates examined almost 6,000 abstracts to identify 14 prospective cohort studies measuring mortality and 25(OH)D levels, published between 2006 and 2010. Based on 5,562 deaths among 62,548 individuals, they found increasing risk of mortality with low serum 25(OH)D levels, especially below 87.5 nmol/L. People with serum 25(OH)D levels > 77.5 nmol/L had a 31% reduction in mortality risk than those below 27.5 nmol/L. The authors write “this meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies offers further support that concentrations of 75-87.5 nmol/L 25(OH)D are desirable.”

So, over the next few weeks, when facing temptations, give yourself a pat on the back as you choose orange juice, a dairy product or other food or drink which is a good source of vitamin D and calcium.


Rosenblum JL, Castro VM, Moore CE, Kaplan LM. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults. 2011 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.019489

Zittermann A, Iodice S, Pilz S, Grant WB, Bagnardi V, Gandinin S. Vitamin D deficiency and mortality risk in the general population: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. 2011 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.014779