Vitamin D supplements do not strengthen bones in healthy adults and should not be used to prevent osteoporosis, a major study has recommended.
It is estimated that around half of all adults over 50 take the supplements and they are often used to prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile.
However, in a study published in The Lancet today, researchers from the University of Auckland said that an analysis of 4,000 healthy adults had revealed that taking vitamin D supplements does not improve bone mineral density at the hip, spine, forearm or in the body as a whole.
“Most healthy adults do not need vitamin D supplements,” said study leader Professor Ian Reid. “Our data suggest that the targeting of low-dose vitamin D supplements only to individuals who are likely to be deficient could free up substantial resources that could be better used elsewhere in healthcare.”
Daily supplements are currently recommended to groups at risk of vitamin D deficiency including women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children aged six months to five years, and over 65s if they are not often exposed to sun. Government advice is not based on the prevention of osteoporosis.
Dr Alison Tedstone, director of diet and obesity at Public Health England said: “The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), an independent group of scientific experts who advise the government, is currently reviewing the dietary recommendations for vitamin D for all population groups in the UK. SACN's review will consider the evidence for the links between vitamin D and a range of health outcomes, including osteoporosis.”