“Bad news for osteoporosis sufferers: Vitamin D supplements ‘do not help bone health’,” The Independent warns. The claim comes after the publication of a major study into the effects of vitamin D supplements on bone density.
Bone density weakens as we get older – with post-menopausal women being at particular risk due to the effects that changes in hormone levels can have on bone density. This can increase the risk of fractures, such as hip fractures.
Vitamin D supplements – which are estimated to generate millions of pounds of profit for the dietary supplements industry – have been marketed as a way of preventing bone weakening. But the study in question throws doubt on this claim.
The study pooled the findings of 23 published studies. The results showed that vitamin D increased bone density by a small amount in just one site (femoral neck) of five sites tested. The effect was very small, and was reported to be unlikely to be clinically significant for preventing osteoporosis or fracture.
The conclusion that taking vitamin D does not appear to increase bone density on its own seems credible. Although the study didn’t directly test a link to bone fracture it did point to other research that showed that vitamin D might also be ineffective in this scenario.
The UK guidance on vitamin D supplementation is being reviewed and will take into account the best available evidence to inform its recommendations.
Where did the story come from?
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.
The media reporting was broadly accurate with some media outlets focusing on the science while other stories focused more on the cost implications of potentially wasteful use of vitamin D supplements in the NHS in England.
The Daily Telegraph reports that “the NHS currently spends more than £80m per year on prescriptions for vitamin D-based medicines”. However, this figure also includes treatment costs for people with diagnosed vitamin D deficiency, so the £80m figure is inaccurate….
Source: Read More at NHS