Vitamin D Supplements Are Largely Worthless

The trials have shown little evidence of vitamin D supplement effectiveness. — AFP pic

The trials have shown little evidence of vitamin D supplement effectiveness. — AFP pic

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.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when we are exposed to sunlight, but as we cover up in the colder winter months and see less daylight, some people develop a deficiency. 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. Other scientists said, however, that there was likely to be a benefit for people low in vitamin D and that it was still worth telling them to take supplements.

The team concluded that vitamin D does not prevent fractures or falls, or have a meaningful effect on bone mineral density, concluding that there is little justification in taking them to "maintain or improve musculoskeletal health", adding that there is no need for more trials to explore this. The clinically meaningful threshold for falls is 15 per cent, although the study found vitamin D also couldn't reduce falls by 7.5 per cent or total fractures by 5 per cent.

Vitamin D supplements do nothing to improve your health and the government should stop recommending them, according to one of the biggest ever studies published on the subject.

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They did caveat that vitamin D supplementation was still appropriate for groups at high risk of rare conditions such as rickets and osteomalacia, which can result after prolonged lack of exposure to the sun. Some have pointed out that only 6% of the trials that were analyzed were done in populations where vitamin D deficiency is an issue, thus skewing the results.

Lead author Dr Mark Bolland, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said: "Since the last major review of evidence in 2014, more than 30 randomised controlled trials on vitamin D and bone health have been published, almost doubling the evidence base available. So, it is too soon to suggest making changes to health recommendations on vitamin D for bone health based on this study", he said.

Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods.

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