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

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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 recommended for older people to treat or prevent osteoporosis, a bone-loss condition, with some early evidence suggesting benefits for bone health.

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. "I look forward to those studies giving us the last word on vitamin D".

There's also existing evidence that vitamin D helps prevent cancer or heart disease, she added.

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The authors say that clinical guidelines that continue to recommend vitamin D supplementation for bone health should be changed to reflect the best available evidence.

Vitamin D supplements do prevent rare conditions, such as rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of bones) in adults.

"We know from meta-analyses that have managed to obtain individual participant data that the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation tend to be most marked in people who have the lowest vitamin D levels to start with", said Adrian Martineau, clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London.

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"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. 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.

Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can get all the vitamin D they need through sunlight and a balanced diet. The results found there was no clinically meaningful effect of vitamin D supplementation on total fracture, hip fracture and falls.

He said advice given by medical experts and the government on vitamin D supplements should be adjusted to reflect the recent findings. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency include those with little or no sun exposure, such as nursing home residents who are indoors all the time, or those who always cover their skin when outside, Avenell said.

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