Maximizing alarm and minimizing information

Extra Calcium and Vitamin D Aren’t Necessary, Report Says

On health issues the following has got to be a close contender for first place in infuriating:

The very high levels of vitamin D that are often recommended by doctors and testing laboratories — and can be achieved only by taking supplements — are unnecessary and could be harmful, an expert committee says. It also concludes that calcium supplements are not needed…The group said most people have adequate amounts of vitamin D in their blood supplied by their diets and natural sources like sunshine, the committee says in a report that is to be released on Tuesday.

And that’s it, except for details about sources and lists of dire things that can happen if you take too much.

So, most people?  Who are these most?  And is there any age group – ahem! – that might not be included in the most?  For example, like presumably millions of women across American, I’ve been told recently to take calcium-D supplements by two different doctors.  No one said anything about amounts.  So maybe that’s not good advice, but what would good advice look like if you are at the age where women start  to lose bone mass?

So I went to the report itself.  That was not fun.  It is not written for people who do not know the relevant medical terminology.  What I did find out  is that bone health for post-menopausal women and elderly men is about the same.  After that, I couldn’t understand it, but I did conclude that I should get my level of vitamin D checked.  If you do try to search the report, “elderly men” will uncover information for post-menopausal women.  And I’m sure that in the approximate 2,000 hits for you to look at, there’s something there.  And it does all look believable.

There was also a revised guideline for amounts to take:

And that looks useful, except if like me you live in the southern USA you may have a lot of D already from the sun.  So these can’t be good guidelines for avoiding taking too much, I surmise.

I would consider phoning one of the doctors who recommended I take the supplements, but in my experience the chances are very high that that would end up in an insulting conversation that started with their observation that I shouldn’t believe everything I read.  And as it ended I would see that yet again here are people who are not going to accept any suggestion from a patient that they may not know it all.  Arrrrggghh!!

Not that this is irritating or anything.


We should note that much of the emphasis of the report is that the use of vitamin D for something other than bone health is unjustified.  Also, people of color probably do know that they will get less vitamin D from the sun.

Plea for advice

from a reader of my other blog, actually. But that one doesn’t allow comments, so I’m cross-posting here in hopes of getting some good advice for him:

This is not a story, but a plea for advice. So maybe it is a story, but not in the usual, straightforward way.

I’m a young junior academic. I’m male. A new female PhD student just joined our department. She’s four or five years my junior. I’m not involved in her doctoral supervision, so I have no direct professional relationship with her. Now my problem (is it a problem?) is that I rather like her — let’s call her Jane. I rather like Jane, and I would certainly want to get to know her better. I may wish for this to develop into something romantic, or not. I don’t know whether that’s desirable or even possible (I just know that she is straight and single, and I have an inkling that she may be vaguely interested too). But after reading this blog I’ve become even more conscious of the fact that even creating the occasion to explore that possibility (asking for a date, that is) may be inappropriate, for lack of a better word. What should I do?