In an issue of the medical journal, Canadian Family Physician, an article was published answering a physician’s question regarding which vitamins (and dosage) could be recommended to patients in light of the most recent research. The authors preface the study by stating, “Dietary reference intakes are values used primarily to assess and plan diets and do not address amounts proposed for optimal health”. Many integrative providers have been stressing this for years, so it is encouraging to see the mainstream medical community in agreement.
Of course, the first recommendation is folate for prevention of birth defects, but lowering homocysteine levels, a risk factor in coronary artery disease, is also included. Vitamin B6 is suggested not only for reduction of coronary artery disease, but also for sensory neuropathies. The authors mention vitamin B12 as an important consideration for persons over 50 due to common problems with absorption from food at this age, stating it is important for cardiovascular health. The other B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin are also key nutrients for supplementation in the elderly, helping prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
The authors consider supplementation with vitamin D to be quite essential. The article state, “the upper level of 2000 international units (IU) (50 g) of vitamin D is too low and that higher doses are safe and can contribute not only to prevention of osteoporosis but also to a reduction in certain cancers and multiple sclerosis and to an improvement in the prognosis of patients with osteoarthritis.” Vitamin E is recommended for prevention of heart disease only in healthy populations, based on some conflicting data on patients with a history of heart disease. Vitamin C is a significant antioxidant, and is also protective against cataracts, cognitive decline and cerebrovascular disease. Finally, the authors say vitamin K plays a role in bone metabolism, atherosclerosis, nerve signaling, and kidney stones, and vitamin A is essential for general health and immunity.