Monday, 10 December, 2018

Taking vitamin D supplements may not improve bone health

Scientists said that doctors should stop recommending the supplements after a study found no evidence of their benefits Scientists said that doctors should stop recommending the supplements after a study found no evidence of their benefitsCHARLOTTE BALL PA
Samantha Long | 05 October, 2018, 23:51

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.

"Our meta-analysis finds that vitamin D does not prevent fractures, falls or improve bone mineral density, whether at high or low dose", Bolland said, according to The Guardian.

The vitamin has always been associated with a decreased risk of a number of conditions, such as osteoporosis and hypertension, in addition to keeping bones strong by helping the body absorb calcium - which is why many use it during the dark winter months.

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. Most included women aged over the age of 65 (77 per cent of trials) who lived in the community and who received daily doses of more than 800 IU per day (68 per cent of trials). "Very few trials were in healthy younger populations".

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.

The study analysed 81 randomised controlled trials, with the majority studying vitamin D alone and not in conjunction with other supplements. "So, it is too soon to suggest making changes to health recommendations on vitamin D for bone health based on this study", he said.

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Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods.

This type of study, called a meta-analysis, tries to find common elements among previously published studies. Even when lower thresholds were assessed, there was still reliable evidence that vitamin D does not reduce falls by 7.5 percent and total fracture by five percent. Nor did the dosage of vitamin D seem to make any difference. "Most Americans do not get enough vitamin D to meet their needs and supplements can fill that gap, but if your vitamin D levels are sufficient you don't need to supplement".

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.

Siris said she's concerned that news about the new research will convince people who already have brittle bones to stop taking their vitamin D supplements.

The study, published by Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal, is the first major review of the topic since 2014.

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