Study: Vitamin D supplements may be of little or no benefit to seniors for bone health

A new study has found that taking high doses of vitamin D supplements brings little or no benefit for seniors. ― AFP pic
A new study has found that taking high doses of vitamin D supplements brings little or no benefit for seniors. ― AFP pic

LONDON, Jan 16 ― New UK research has found that despite their popularity, it seems vitamin D supplements may have little benefit for seniors who take them to improve bone strength and reduce the risk of falls.

Led by Newcastle University and funded by Versus Arthritis, the new study set out to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation, often encouraged in older people, had a positive effect on bone mineral density (BMD), an indicator of bone strength, and changers in markers of bone metabolism.

The team recruited 379 adults over the age of 70 and randomly allocated them to take one of three doses of vitamin D given once a month for a year.

The doses were 300 µg, 600 µg or 1200 µg, which are equivalent to a daily dose of 10 µg, 20 µg or 40 µg respectively.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that there was no change in BMD over 12 months between the three doses, supporting results from previous studies which show that there is no benefit for older people taking vitamin D.

However, the researchers did find that not only were doses equivalent to 40 µg a day safe in an older population, there was also a beneficial effect on bone metabolism up to the highest dose.

Lead author Dr Terry Aspray, commented on the findings saying, “Vitamin D deficiency is common in older people, and it may lead to bone loss, impairment of muscle function and an increased risk of falls and fractures. The results from previous studies assessing the effect of vitamin D on bone mineral density have yielded conflicting results, and our study is a significant contribution to the current debate.”

“While our findings do not support evidence of the benefit of high dose vitamin D supplements, at least on bone mineral density, we do, however, identify that higher doses of the vitamin may have beneficial effects on bone metabolism and that they are safe for older people.”

“I would suggest that older people should focus on maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, adequate sun exposure and take regular exercise to keep their bones as strong as possible.”

“While some may need to take vitamin D supplements, there is little benefit to taking more than 10 µg a day.” ― AFP-Relaxnews

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