Vitamin D supplements do not improve bone health

Desiree Burns
October 10, 2018

The meta-analysis included data from 81 randomized controlled trials, totaling nearly 54,000 participants, and concluded that vitamin D supplementation did not significantly impact fracture, falls, or bone mineral density (BMD).

In response, Daniel Fabricant, PhD, president and CEO of the Natural Products Association, pointed out that numerous health organizations in the United States and around the world advocate for sufficient vitamin D intake, including the US FDA and guidelines in the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia. The study was led by Dr. Mark J. Bolland, associate professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

"We know from meta-analysis that have managed to obtain individual participant data that the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation tend to be most marked in people who have the lowest vitamin D levels to start with", Adrian Martineau, clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, was quoted as saying by the CNN on Friday.

Prof Bolland said things have changed since 2014, when the last major review of the evidence was carried out. In the study, the team pooled data from 81 randomised controlled trials. Researchers reviewed trials to figure out the effects of the "sunshine vitamin". It can also be found in certain foods such as fishes, eggs, and milk.

The studies that have been done are mostly on older people who could be at risk of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease), but Prof Avenell said there is no evidence of benefit for any adults - apart from those few who are at high risk of osteomalacia, a form of rickets in adults.

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There was reliable evidence that vitamin D does not reduce total fractures, hip fractures, or falls by 15 per cent - a clinically meaningful threshold.

Recent studies have indicated that Vitamin D supplements which are usually taken to improve the bones are irrelevant and have advised that health professionals should discontinue giving them to patients.

They were not talking about the effects of supplements in children and young people, she said, because there had not been trials.

The authors concluded that there was little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health.

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