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

October 10, 2013, Lancet

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."

Explore further: Vitamin D alone does little to protect bone health in postmenopausal women

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (13)61647-5/abstract

Related Stories

Vitamin D alone does little to protect bone health in postmenopausal women

September 24, 2013
While calcium supplements noticeably improved bone health in postmenopausal women, vitamin D supplements did not reduce bone turnover, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal ...

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

February 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 ...

Can vitamin B supplements help stave off stroke?

September 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 Neurology.

Calcium and vitamin D help hormones help bones

June 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 ...

Calcium supplements may not prevent bone loss in women with breast cancer

August 27, 2013
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are widely prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent and manage osteoporosis, an unwanted side effect of breast cancer therapies. However, new research from Wake ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.