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Does Vitamin D Make A Difference?

A review (meta-analysis) published in October 2018 in “The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology”, of 81 previously published studies found that both high and low dose vitamin D supplementation did not prevent falls or fractures or increase bone density. The majority of reviewed studies included women ages 65 and older that took more than 800 international units of vitamin D per day. Most of the studies were on Vitamin D alone, not in combination with calcium. The authors noted that smaller, shorter duration trials leaned toward finding stronger results from Vitamin D than longer duration, larger trials. The authors of the study believe Vitamin D supplement recommendations for bone health should be updated to reflect recent research findings.

While adequate Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and low levels should be corrected, assuming Vitamin D supplements are a magic bullet for everyone is not supported by research. It is important that people understand the real keys to bone health are appropriate bone building exercise, fall prevention strategies and eating a bone healthy diet, not taking a vitamin D supplement.

Because a low percentage of the reviewed studies included people with low vitamin D levels, the finding that Vitamin D supplements do not prevent falls or fractures, or increase bone density, should not be applied to people with low vitamin D levels. Nursing home residents with no sun exposure, persons living in areas with limited sun or people who always keep their skin covered or wear sunscreen, and people with or at risk of osteoporosis should have their Vitamin D levels checked to determine if they need a supplement. People with normal levels of Vitamin D, including those with osteoporosis, should not take Vitamin D supplements. You only need a Vitamin D supplement if your Vitamin D level is low.

Bottom line on vitamin D, it does appear to make a difference in people with low levels but probably does not affect people with sufficient Vitamin D levels. Supplementing people with normal vitamin D levels could possibly even have negative effects.


posted 3/18/2019