For years, physicians have been prescribing vitamin D supplements for older adults to prevent bone loss. But now, a new study shows that these pills might not really be that effective after all.
The study, led by Professor Ian Reid from the University of Auckland's Bone Research Group, found that old people using these vitamin D supplements had no increase in bone mineral density. Doctors use the bone density test to assess a person's risk of fracture.
"Most healthy adults do not need vitamin D supplements" said Professor Reid in a news release. "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."
For the study, researchers looked at data from 23 studies that assessed the efficacy of vitamin D pills. A total of 4000 people participated in these research trials. Researchers found that the supplements did not improve bone mineral density at the hip, spine, forearm, or in any other place in the body.
Reid believes that vitamin D pill use should be restricted to people who are frail. "This review study suggests that the high use of vitamin D supplements by most healthy adults is a waste of money and resources."
Vitamin D or the "sunshine vitamin" is known to keep the bones strong. Earlier research has shown that a high intake of vitamin D reduces fracture risk in older adults. Another research had shown that taking Vitamin D and calcium prolongs life and that a deficiency of vitamin D in diet might lead to depression. Related studies have even shown that the vitamin keeps mood swings away and prevents weight gain in women who have hit menopause.
The study has been published in the journal The Lancet.
Experts have warned that people shouldn't stop taking vitamin D supplements based on the study results.
To contact the editor, e-mail: