Letter: Re: A Vitamin and a Mineral

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It is misguided and dangerous for a non-medically trained person to be giving medical advice, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. As a physician whose training and experience has included reading countless medical journal articles, I can unequivocally state that a non-medically sophisticated person cannot possibly judge the significance or validity of a few medical journal articles located in a Google search. Just consider Mr. Hellewell’s statements about vitamin D. He says it is “good for the immune system.” That extremely vague phrase is a red flag for countless unscientific claims. In addition, the Northwestern study Mr. Hellewell refers to was published at medrxiv.org without peer review with the warning it “should not be used to guide clinical practice”, and the lead researcher, Vadim Backman, said at mccormick.northwestern.edu that vitamin D “might” play a role in mortality and “we don’t need to push vitamin D on everybody…This needs further study.” In addition, the study was published on May 18, 2020, which was eleven days prior to Mr. Hellewell’s article, which is woefully insufficient time to allow verification and additional study to be carried out. Would you hire a football coach to design a solar panel? For advice about COVID-19, trust medical experts in the fields of infectious disease and public health. Your well-being is too important to entrust it to amateurs who overestimate their ability to analyze the medical literature.

Gary M. Stewart, M.D. Laguna Beach

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