Using vitamin D supplements 'does not prevent fractures or falls'

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

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

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

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Lead author Mark J Bolland from the University of Auckland in New Zealand said, "Our analysis finds that vitamin D does not prevent fractures, falls or improve bone mineral density, whether at high or low dose". 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.

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. Clinical guidelines should be changed to reflect these findings.

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. One of the biggest sources of the vitamin is exposure to sunlight.

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The authors said in the paper that they believed the results mean that there is "no justification" for further trials of vitamin D on musculoskeletal outcomes as there is no longer any ambiguity about its benefits.

The researchers reviewed 81 robust studies conducted between September 2017 and February 2018, and found that routine vitamin D supplementation had no impact on bone health, except in patients with rare conditions where the risk of deficiency is high.

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

In secondary analyses looking at bone density, there were small differences for lumbar spine, femoral neck, and for total body, but none of these were clinically relevant.

Vitamin D supplementation is now recommended for the elderly and all babies and children below the age of 5 years. "I look forward to those studies giving us the last word on vitamin D".

Bolland suggests doctors and health officials now recommending the vitamin to older patients as a way to prevent osteoporosis or brittle bones should stop.

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