Vitamin's value to be D-termined

Beta carotene, the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, selenium — they've all been talked up as agents of health and well-being, only to lose altitude after middling, even negative, results from randomized trials. Now it's time for vitamin D to be put to the clinical trial test: the largest randomized clinical trial ever of large doses of vitamin D is starting in 2010.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, a member of the Health Letter's editorial board, and her colleagues at Harvard Medical School are conducting the VITAL study (they arrived at the name by selectively plucking letters from VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL). The plan is to enroll 20,000 men and women nationwide and randomly assign them to take, on a daily basis, either vitamin D pills, omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil capsules, the vitamin D pills and fish oil capsules together, or placebo pills.

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