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Report: A bit more vitamin D is good, not too much

Rating

5 Star

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Report: A bit more vitamin D is good, not too much

Our Review Summary

 The story includes multiple voices that explain the rationale for the new recommendation, as well as comments from prominent experts who dissent with some of the committee’s recommendation. The story does not give readers any information about whether any of the experts quoted have potential financial or other conflicts of interest. This story does not deal with the costs of supplementation, which another story noted totals hundreds of millions of dollars a year of spending on vitamin D supplements alone. The story does a nice job of calling attention to recent examples of high hopes and later disappointment involving vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene, thus helping readers put the current claims about vitamin D and calcium in perspective.

 

Why This Matters

People may want clear and final answers about nutrition and health, but the reality of health research is usually more complex and less conclusive. This story manages to summarize and explain the Institute of Medicine recommendations on vitamin D and calcium, while portraying some of the ongoing scientific debate.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not address costs. While the price of a supplement pill is typically just a few cents, this story would have been better if (like another story about this report that we reviewed) it had pointed out that Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on vitamin D supplements.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

This story reports that the Institute of Medicine committee concluded that typical consumption of vitamin D and calcium is adequate to support bone health, though the story does not define just what the term “bone health” means. The nature of the IOM report does not lend itself to quantifying potential benefits to bone health or other outcomes that were mentioned. The story does provide details about blood levels of vitamin D that are considered adequate by the IOM committee, as well as the higher levels advocated by some individual experts.

The story also makes clear that the IOM committee concluded that evidence is lacking to claim that vitamin D or calcium produces other health benefits.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

This story does a good job of calling attention to kidney damage from excessive vitamin D and kidney stones caused by too much calcium. It also says that some studies have found other harms.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

This story does not do as good a job as some others in terms of explaining the process of evidence review and deliberation that the Institute of Medicine committee went through before issuing its report. However, readers are given a sense that the report is a consensus statement that attempts to sum up what is known about vitamin D and calcium. The story also refers to other reports and studies that provide context. The inclusion of comments from individual experts who dissent from some aspects of the IOM report accurately portray the active scientific debate on this topic.

This story also does a nice job of pointing out recent examples in which hopes of vitamin benefits were dashed by careful experiments, thus helping to put into perspective the claims by individual scientists of hoped-for benefits of higher vitamin D consumption.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story clearly reports the Institute of Medicine committee conclusion that almost all Americans already consume enough vitamin D (and calcium) to support bone health. The comments from those who advocate broader use of supplements are labeled as individual opinions.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

There are multiple independent sources quoted in this story. This story could have provided readers with more background about the independent sources quoted; there is no mention of whether any of them have any potential conflicts.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story explains that there are alternatives to supplements, that vitamin D is included in foods (natural and fortified) and that vitamin D is produced in our skin when exposed to sunlight.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story refers to the availability of vitamin D in certain foods (natural and fortified), supplements, and that our skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

There is no claim of novelty.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The story does not appear to rely on a news release.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory

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