Vitamin D does not improve bone health or prevent fractures, finds study

Vitamin D supplements don’t improve bone health major study finds	 	 	 			Getty Images

Vitamin D supplements don’t improve bone health major study finds Getty Images

Dr. Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said this new study should convince doctors that vitamin D supplements don't have a role in maintaining healthy bones, but they do have other benefits. Vitamin D supplements have always been shown to keep bones healthy and help stop colds and flu in older adults.

The new study found no meaningful effect of vitamin D supplementation when it came to reducing any fracture, hip fractures or falls.

The authors conclude that there is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health, except for the prevention of rare conditions such as rickets and osteomalacia in high-risk groups, which can occur due to vitamin D deficiency after a prolonged lack of exposure to sunshine.

Previous research suggests that vitamin D, when taken in tandem with calcium, may help prevent certain cancers and protect against age-related declines in thinking and memory.

The findings add to previous research suggesting that vitamin D supplements do not prevent disease for the majority.

However the study's authors say this may be a waste of time.

This is because the research found that vitamin D supplementation does not reduce falls or fracture risk, and also does not improve bone mineral density.

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.

In a previous report, Dr. Clifford Rosen, professor of medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine and senior scientist at Maine Medical Center, told CNN that it's generally better to get vitamin D from the sun and food than from supplements.

Even when lower thresholds were assessed, there was still reliable evidence that vitamin D does not reduce falls by 7.5 per cent and total fractures by 5 per cent. "Clinical guidelines should be changed to reflect these findings", he said. 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 included women aged over the age of 65 (77% of trials) who lived in the community and who received daily doses of more than 800 International Units per day (68% of trials). This conclusion belongs to a major study conducted by United Kingdom researchers and published recently in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

"What is important to keep in mind is that those with low vitamin D were not represented in this meta-analysis, and vitamin D supplementation - repletion, actually - is still necessary for those with low vitamin D levels, regardless of age", Sood said.