Baltimore Sun

Vitamin D supplement­s won’t help your bone health, large study finds


Seniors who take vitamin D supplement­s to improve their bone health and ward off fractures are wasting their time and money, a major new study has found.

These supplement­s did nothing to reduce their average risk of bone fractures, researcher­s found in a randomized trial testing vitamin D against a placebo.

“In generally healthy adults, these results do not support the use of vitamin D supplement­s to reduce fracture risk,” said lead researcher Dr. Meryl LeBoff, chief of the Calcium and Bone

Section at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “We found that supplement­al vitamin D did not reduce fractures in U.S. participan­ts.”

In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than 25,000 older adults were randomly assigned to take either 2,000 units of vitamin D daily or a placebo, and then followed for an average of five years. The average age of participan­ts was 67.

Nearly 2,000 bone fractures occurred among more than 1,500 participan­ts during the study period. However, taking vitamin

D appears to have had no bearing on who suffered a fracture and who didn’t.

Nearly 20% of U.S. adults currently take vitamin D supplement­s, researcher­s said, often based on blood tests that find they have “insufficie­nt” or “deficient” levels of vitamin D.

These new results should cause doctors and patients to question the value of routine vitamin D testing, said Dr. Steven Cummings, a professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Doctors routinely order vitamin D levels, and many patients hear that they are low, they’re below some level,” said Cummings, co-author of an editorial accompanyi­ng the findings. “What we needed to know is whether those people who have low levels benefit from taking vitamin D. And the answer to that is no.”

The clinical trial could shake the vitamin D market, which is worth more than $1 billion globally, according to market watchers.

Vitamin D had been thought to help bone health because it is essential to your body’s absorption of calcium, LeBoff said.


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