Vitamin D supplements don’t prevent bone fractures in healthy adults, study finds

Vitamin D supplements are widely recommended to prevent bone fractures in older adults — but a clinical trial, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that they may not do much after all. 

In 2011, the National Academy of Medicine (then called the Institute of Medicine) recommended the general public get between 600 and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. That recommendation was based on past research showing that the vitamin may support bone health by aiding in calcium absorption and decreasing bone turnover, which causes bone deterioration.

Subsequent studies have yielded contradicting results; some concluded supplementing with vitamin D was beneficial, while one even found that high vitamin D levels caused by taking supplements could be harmful and cause more falls. Other trials have looked at both calcium and vitamin D together, making it difficult to analyze the vitamin’s effects on its own. 


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Extra vitamin D won’t reduce fractures in healthy older people, study finds

Taking 2,000 IU (international units) a day of supplemental vitamin D3 without calcium over the course of more than five years did not reduce hip, wrist or pelvic fractures when compared with taking a daily placebo, according to the study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A placebo is a sham pill given to patients so they will believe they are getting the real treatment.

“This is the largest, longest, randomized controlled trial on vitamin D supplementation in the US — 25,871 men and women were enrolled from all 50 states, including 20% Black participants,” said study author Dr. Meryl LeBoff, chief of the calcium and bone section in the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“Overall, the results from this large clinical trial do not support the use of vitamin D supplements to reduce fractures in generally healthy US men … Read More