A new meta-analysis by medical researchers in New Zealand and Scotland has seriously called into question whether vitamin D supplementation has any effect on bone health. But judging by the reaction of other physicians and scientists, the long-standing practice of recommending daily vitamin D to older adults is not going anywhere – at least, not yet.
Two of the study’s three authors – Mark Bolland and Andrew Grey, both from the University of Auckland – have been leading investigations into vitamin D since 2012, and each time they have presented dubious conclusions about the benefits of the supplement. The recent work, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, was undertaken to analyze the wave of 30-plus clinical trials that were conducted since their last literature review in 2014. These additions have nearly doubled the amount of available evidence.
So, Bolland and Grey teamed up with Alison Avenell from the University of Aberdeen to examine findings from 81 randomized control trials that compared bone mineral density and rates of falls and/or fractures among people taking high or low doses of vitamin D to those taking a placebo, not taking a supplement, or those taking even lower doses of vitamin D.
“Our findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation does not prevent fractures or falls, or have clinically meaningful effects on bone mineral density,” they wrote, adding that they believe clinical guidelines should be amended.
“On the strength of existing evidence, we believe there is little justification for more trials of vitamin D supplements looking at musculoskeletal outcomes,” Bolland told the Guardian.
Adrian Martineau, a professor of Respiratory Infection and Immunity at Queen Mary University of London, is one of many experts that disagree with the sweeping conclusions of Bolland’s group.