Vitamin D supplements do not improve bone health, concludes study

Vitamin D pills would only be useful for high risk groups

Vitamin D pills would only be useful for high risk groups

A review of previously published studies found that taking either high or low doses of vitamin D supplements didn't prevent fractures or falls, or improve bone density.

Two years ago Public Health England (PHE) recommended that people take supplements in winter to top up vitamin D, ...

There is "little justification" for prescribing vitamin D to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health and clinical guidelines should be changed to reflect this, a study has suggested.

Lead author Dr. Mark Bolland, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said: "Since the last major review of the evidence in 2014, more than 30 randomized controlled trials on vitamin D and bone health have been published, almost doubling the evidence base available". However, recent large-scale reviews have reported no effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density, falls or fractures. Therefore, there is little justification for the use of vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health, and clinical guidelines should reflect these findings'.

Vitamin D supplementation is now recommended for the elderly and all babies and children below the age of 5 years. Also, others say, some of the trials that were analyzed had too few participants, too low of dosages of vitamin D, and short treatment periods.

In the study, the authors pooled data from 81 randomised controlled trials. Most of our vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. The review found no link between vitamin D supplementation and reduction in the fracture, hip fractures or falls.

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

The pros and cons of vitamin D supplements have always been debated, with some worrying about the consequences if people with deficiencies stopped taking them. Within 3 years, we might have that answer because there are approximately 100 000 participants now enrolled in randomised, placebo-controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation. Most studies included women aged over 65 with serum vitamin D levels of less than 50nmol/L and taking vitamin D doses of more than 800IU per day.

Whilst it is universally agreed that vitamin D is essential for good health, the scientists question whether supplementation is necessary.

With a fifth of people in the United Kingdom showing concerning vitamin D levels, government advice is to achieve this from sunshine and a healthy balanced diet during summer and spring.

The research was funded by Health Research Council of New Zealand.

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