Taking vitamin D tablets won't help bone health

X-ray of hip fracture

Intake of Vitamin D supplements does not prevent fractures or falls, or improve bone mineral density in adults, especially in women, claimed a new Lancet study.

Since the last major review in 2014, more than 30 randomised controlled trials on bone health and vitamin D have been published, almost doubling the evidence-base available.

Two of the study's three authors - Mark Bolland and Andrew Grey, both from the University of Auckland - have been leading investigations into vitamin D since 2012, and each time they have presented dubious conclusions about the benefits of the supplement.

"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. "Clinical guidelines should be changed to reflect these findings", said Bolland.

Vitamin D supplements have always been recommended for older people to treat or prevent osteoporosis - a bone loss condition - with some early evidence suggesting benefits for bone health.

He added that further trials looking at the effects of vitamin D on bone health would be pointless.

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Contrary to current medical guidelines, a meta-analysis suggests that vitamin D supplements do not significantly improve bone health.

It is also contained in a small number of foods, such as cod liver oil, offal, egg yolk and oily fish, including salmon and mackerel.

The research examined data from 81 trials which involved more than 53,000 people to study whether vitamin D supplement helped in fractures, falls or bone density. They also confirmed that supplements do not have significant effects on a person's bone density.

"We believe there is no justification for more trials of vitamin D supplements with musculoskeletal outcomes because there is no longer equipoise about the effects of vitamin D on these outcomes".

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

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