Meta-analysis indicates widespread use of vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults unjustified

Taking vitamin D supplements does not improve bone mineral density at the total hip, spine, forearm, or in the body as a whole, a large meta-analysis involving more than 4,000 healthy adults published in The Lancet has found. With close to half of adults aged 50 and older using vitamin D supplements, the authors conclude that continuing widespread use of these supplements to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults is needless.

"Most healthy adults do not need vitamin D supplements", explains study leader Professor Ian Reid from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. "Our data suggest that the targeting of low-dose vitamin D only to individuals who are likely to be deficient could free up substantial resources that could be better used elsewhere in healthcare."

Reid and colleagues from the University of Auckland conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomised trials examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on in healthy adults up to July 2012.

Analysis of data from 23 studies involving 4082 healthy adults (average age 59 years) did not identify any effects for people who took vitamin D for an average period of 2 years, apart from a small but statistically significant increase in bone density (0.8%) at the femoral neck. According to the authors, such a localised effect is unlikely to be clinically significant.

The authors conclude, "This provides very little evidence of an overall benefit of vitamin D supplementation on …Continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate."

Writing in a linked Comment, Clifford J Rosen from the Maine Medical Research Institute in the USA discusses how our recent understanding of vitamin D lends support to these findings, confirming that, "Supplementation to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults is not warranted. However, maintenance of vitamin D stores in the elderly combined with sufficient dietary calcium intake (800–1200 mg per day) remains an effective approach for prevention of hip fractures."

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61647-5/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

USPSTF: Vitamin D, calcium supplements don't prevent fx

Feb 26, 2013

(HealthDay)—For non-institutionalized postmenopausal women, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against daily supplementation with ≤400 IU of vitamin D3 and ≤1,000 mg of calcium for primary prevention of fractures, and a lack of e ...

Can vitamin B supplements help stave off stroke?

Sep 18, 2013

New evidence suggests that taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke. The research appears in the September 18, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurol ...

Calcium and vitamin D help hormones help bones

Jun 26, 2013

Should women take calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause for bone health? Recommendations conflict, and opinions are strong. But now, an analysis from the major Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial throws weight ...

Recommended for you

Sensors may keep hospitalized patients from falling

1 hour ago

(Medical Xpress)—To keep hospitalized patients safer, University of Arizona researchers are working on new technology that involves a small, wearable sensor that measures a patient's activity, heart rate, ...

Rising role seen for health education specialists

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A health education specialist can help family practices implement quality improvement projects with limited additional financial resources, according to an article published in the March/April ...

FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

3 hours ago

The federal government wants to prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.

User comments