Taking vitamin D supplements may not improve bone density or prevent falls and fractures in adults, findings of a new study have revealed.
In the meta-analysis reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Alison Avenell of the University of Aberdeen in the UK and colleagues analyzed the data from 81 randomized trials to study the impact of vitamin D supplementation on bone health.
The trials have been done mostly in older people who could be at risk of osteoporosis, a medical condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle.
Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that osteoporosis and other bone diseases affect millions of people in the United States and are a major cause of disability. The CDC said that half of all women and up to a quarter of men age 50 years and older will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
The analysis, however, revealed that vitamin D supplementation, regardless of dosage, had no effect on the number of fractures and falls. The researchers neither found evidence suggesting that vitamin D increases bone density.
“There is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published on Oct. 4.
The researchers said that there is no evidence that vitamin D can benefit any adult, except for a few who are at increased risk for osteomalacia, a form of rickets in adults.
“We don’t think that the population needs to take vitamin D supplementation, because trials don’t show it has any benefit in protecting against falls and fractures or all the other things vitamin D is supposed to protect you against,” Avenell told The Guardian.
Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that the results of the study should convince doctors that vitamin D supplements do not have a role in maintaining healthy bones.
Sood nonetheless said that vitamin D still has other benefits. She told HealthDay that people low in vitamin D were not represented in the meta-analysis. She also said that vitamin D supplementation is still important for individuals with low levels of the vitamin regardless of age.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body, which help keep the muscles, bones, and teeth healthy.
Earlier studies have found that when taken with calcium, vitamin D may prevent certain cancers and protect against age-related declines in memory and thinking.