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Study Repots Vitamin D Ineffective for Bone Health

Update Date: Oct 11, 2013 09:40 AM EDT

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the body maintain its levels of calcium and phosphorus, which contribute to stronger bones. Vitamin D can be found in a lot of every day foods, such as fish and eggs, and via sunlight as well. Despite theses sources, as people start to age, their bones will deteriorate faster than they can intake vitamin D, which is why people are often recommended to take daily vitamin D supplements. In a new study, researchers are now reporting that vitamin D supplements might not help with bone health for healthy seniors.

For this study, the research team from the University of Auckland in New Zealand examined over 4,000 healthy participants that came from 23 studies. These studies were conducted in different countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Holland and Norway. The team conducted a meta-analysis of all of the randomized trials. From this analysis, they focused on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on healthy adults' bone mineral density. The participants had taken these supplements for an average of two years.

Bone mineral density is a measurement of bone strength. It informs doctors and researchers the risk of fractures or risk of bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, in different regions of the body. The researchers discovered that taking vitamin D supplements did not improve the participant's health. However, the team did calculate a small increase in the bone mineral density at the neck of the femur, which is by the hip joint.

"Our data suggest that the targeting of low-dose vitamin D supplements only to individuals who are likely to be deficient could free up substantial resources that could be better used elsewhere in healthcare," the lead author of the study, professor Ian Reid said according to BBC News. "Supplementation to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults is not warranted. However, maintenance of vitamin D stores in the elderly combined with sufficient dietary calcium intake remains an effective approach for prevention of hip fractures."

The study was published in The Lancet.

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