Vitamin D supplements don't improve bone health

Scientists said that doctors should stop recommending the supplements after a study found no evidence of their benefits

Study is the largest meta-analysis to date and includes data from 81 randomised controlled trials.

The Department of Health now recommends that all children under five should take a daily supplement, along with pregnant and breastfeeding women, and older people who are not often outdoors - for instance if they are frail, housebound or live in a care home.

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

Bolland explained that this has doubled the volume of information available on vitamin D and bone health.

Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods. Not everyone is convinced by the overall finding that vitamin D supplementation is worthless, CNN notes.

The American Bone Health organization recommended that people supplement with calcium and vitamin D according to their age.

But the research also concludes the supplement is helpful in preventing rare conditions such as rickets and osteomalacia in high risk groups, which can occur after a prolonged lack of exposure to sunshine, resulting in deficiency. "Our meta-analysis finds that vitamin D does not prevent fractures, falls, or improve bone mineral density, whether at high or low dose", says lead author Mark J. Bolland of the University of Auckland, adding that "clinical guidelines should be changed to reflect these findings".

The review entitled, Effects of Vitamin D supplementation on musculoskeletal health: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and trial sequential analysis, was published yesterday in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

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 addition, most of the studies covered in the new review included women aged 65 and older who took more than 800 IUs (international units) of vitamin D daily. She is clinical chair in health services research at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The majority of the trials that were analysed looked at vitamin D alone (not prescribed in conjunction with calcium supplements) and were of one year or less. 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.

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

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