I have some appalling news to share with you today—and just in time for summer, too.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—yes, the same group who controls what doctors should and should not do, and whose guidance insurance companies use to determine what tests to pay for and which ones to reject—have just issued a truly idiotic decision.
They’ve determined that there’s not enough evidence to recommend screening for vitamin D deficiencies in the general population. And I have to say, I’m truly beside myself.
Have they gone mad? Are they afraid? Or are they just that ignorant!?
There’s mounds of scientific evidence showing this crucial vitamin can help protect you against chronic disease—from COVID-19 to Alzheimer’s to cancer. So, in my view, the decision to screen for D should be a no-brainer.
But apparently, the USPSTF thinks otherwise. Buckle your seatbelt folks, because the lunacy here is rattling…
A sorry excuse for prevention
The latest USPSTF recommendation is based on a review of the benefits and harms of vitamin D screening. And though I simply can’t imagine any harm in a simple blood test that can be performed at every doctor’s office in the country, let’s talk about this nonsense anyway.
The review looked at asymptomatic, non-pregnant adults in the community. (Meaning they had no signs of D deficiency.) But, news flash! We’re all asymptomatic until we end up with something. Why on earth would you wait until that point to screen and treat?
Here’s the real kicker: None of the studies looked directly at the benefits of screening for vitamin D deficiency. All 26 studies focused on the effectiveness of treating D deficiency with supplementation—which is interesting, given the boldness of their decision.
But to make matters even worse, we don’t even have an accepted standard of what is “too low” where vitamin D levels are concerned. I can’t tell you how many doctors have told my patients they are taking too much vitamin D—and that a blood level of 20 ng/mL is “sufficient.”
But plenty of studies show that higher vitamin D levels reduce fractures, falls, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and more. The list is virtually endless—and it’s no secret, either. So why is this still up for debate?
Everyone is at risk
The USPSTF does at least admit that treating vitamin D deficiency with supplementation appears to be safe. But unfortunately, that’s the only bone they’re prepared to throw.
Rather than recommending screening for everyone, they want us to push diet and supplementation for high-risk groups. But these so-called “high-risk” groups include obese people (which now make up nearly half the population), people who don’t get much sun (again, a majority of the population), and older people.
Translation: pretty much everyone.
Maybe not young people in Florida, southern Texas, and Southern California who routinely go to the beach. But the rest of us? Believe me, we are all at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
And I hate to break it to them, but diet is a woefully inadequate way of addressing this risk. Yes, you’ll find vitamin D in some foods—like mushrooms or salmon—but not many. Which is why, once again, I recommend vitamin D screening and supplementation to everyone.
I went over this on Friday, but as a refresher, I suggest getting your blood levels of vitamin D screened every six months. I consider optimal levels to be 80 to 100 ng/mL. And to reach those levels, I advise taking a minimum of 50 mcg (2,000 IU) to 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin D3 daily. But some patients may need at much as 250 mcg (10,000 IU) daily to maintain optimal levels.
So if your doctor won’t add this screen to your annual physical… well, I strongly encourage you to find one who will.
P.S. For more insight about the potential of vitamin D, check out the May 2014 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Don’t skimp on vitamin D this summer—your life still depends on it”). So if you haven’t already, consider becoming a subscriber today. Click here now!
“Don’t Screen for Vitamin D in General Population, Says US Task Force.” Medscape Medical News, 04/13/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/949167)