Never Mind About Vitamin D and Calcium

by Liz Colville

If you have any brains, you knew this was coming (or hoped it was, because what the F): the slow, vitamin-by-vitamin retraction of all that overzealous antioxidant baloney that has been flooding pretty much everything we eat, from orange juice to yogurt to potato chips to chapstick, for the past five years or so. It seemed to start with Vitamin B, which is literally dumped into energy drinks like Vitamin Water and Monster, but which, like so many things in this world, but particularly vitamins, is not recommended in large quantities. Now, we turn to the two things that are forced on women of all ages at every turn: Vitamin D and calcium. Forget them!

A committee of medical experts, convened at the government’s request, is releasing a report today that recommends most people stop taking vitamin D and calcium supplements because we all apparently get enough vitamin D and calcium in our diets and through sunlight. This is strange, especially if you looked at Information Is Beautiful’s charts on Vitamin D deficiency around the world, and if you look at the way some Americans eat. But the committee says the amount of Vitamin D that qualifies as “deficient” is probably too high to begin with, hence charts that make us all appear to be sorely lacking in the stuff. “Some labs have started reporting levels of less than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood as a deficiency,” writes the Times. “With that as a standard, 80 percent of the population would be deemed deficient of vitamin D.”

But no need to cancel the Got Milk? campaign or anything — the experts say that if anyone is, teenage girls are most likely to be lacking in calcium, but it would be nice if that extra calcium came through, you know, food, and non-vitamin boosted food at that. But the whole country is freaking out about bones! This committee says that the freak-out is definitely out of proportion to the actual risk of osteoporosis. AND there is some evidence showing that “high levels of vitamin D can increase the risks for fractures and the overall death rate and can raise the risk for other diseases.” What the.

So should we just stop taking all vitamins altogether? Does anyone take vitamins besides me? It seems that if we’re worried about not getting enough nutrients and vitamins in our diet, we might invest, like a friend of mine has, in a crazily powerful blender called the Vitamix, into which he throws whole bunches of kale, spoonfuls of flax seeds, and other delicious things, every morning. It’s only a few hunj, and you’ve got to think about your BONES. But not too hard.