Vitamin D Supplements Are Largely Worthless

Ben Davidson
October 8, 2018

Vitamin D supplements do nothing to improve your health and the government should stop recommending them, according to one of the biggest ever studies published on the subject.

Vitamin D supplements aren't what they are cracked up to be when it comes to improving bone health and preventing breaks.

The evidence is now so clear that there is little point investigating further and doctors should stop telling millions of people to take supplements, the scientists say.

Contrary to popular belief, taking vitamin D supplements don't help bone health.

At present, the Department of Health in the United Kingdom urges people to take vitamin D supplements regularly, especially during the winter months between October and March when UV exposure is low. "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". Even when lower thresholds were assessed, there was still reliable evidence that vitamin D does not reduce falls by 7.5% and total fractures by 5%. 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.

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. She is clinical chair in health services research at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

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Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when we are exposed to sunlight, but as we cover up in the colder winter months and see less daylight, some people develop a deficiency.

There was no clinically meaningful effect of vitamin D supplementation on total fracture, hip fracture, or falls.

Vitamin D supplements do prevent rare conditions, such as rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults. Not everyone is convinced by the overall finding that vitamin D supplementation is worthless, CNN notes.

Because of the small number of trials with baseline 25OHD below 25 nmol/L (total of 831 participants), more research might be needed into the effect of vitamin D supplementation at these levels. These can occur due to vitamin D deficiency.

For the new report, Avenell and her colleagues reviewed 81 studies, most of which dealt with vitamin D alone, not in combination with the mineral calcium.

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