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'Little clinical benefit' for vitamin D supplements

Monday May 15th, 2017

Vitamin D supplements provide little clinical benefit for older adults, unless they have a significant deficiency, a new report has revealed.

An international study found that mass, untargeted provision of the supplements does little to help counter osteoporosis. The experts say medical staff should only target vitamin D supplements at people who have significant vitamin D deficiencies.

Professor Ian Reid told delegates at the ECTS 2017, the 44th European Calcified Tissue Society Congress, Salzburg, Austria, that the research undertaken by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, was part of a bigger trial called ViDA (Vitamin D Assessment Study) among 418 community-resident adults aged 50-84 years.

The participants were randomly split into two groups and followed for two years. One group received a monthly high-dose of vitamin D and the other had a placebo to test any changes in bone density in their lower spines and in other commonly tested sites on the body.

"We know that severe vitamin D deficiency causes osteomalacia, yet trials in the community have not consistently shown that vitamin D supplements improve older adults' bone density or reduce the risk of fracture,” he said.

The teams tested thresholds in the levels of vitamin D already present in the participants and found that the threshold of 30 nmol 25-hydroxyvitamin D per litre there was no real change in bone density for those receiving the treatment, compared to those receiving the placebo. For those at or below the threshold, the change in bone density was about 2%.

“It was clear to us that future trials of vitamin D supplements in older adults should focus on those who have baseline vitamin D levels equal to or below 30 nmol per litre and that the findings represent a significant step towards defining vitamin D deficiency for bone health in older adults,” he added.

Tags: Alternative Therapy | Australia | Europe | North America | Orthopaedics

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