The graph above shows the number of fractures recorded in the group that took vitamin D (left) and the number that took the placebo or dummy pill (right).  This shows that there was no difference between the two groups, even though one increased their vitamin levels.  Scientists said it should

Vitamin D supplements do NOT help seniors avoid bone fractures

Taking vitamin D supplements every day does not help a person avoid bone fractures, a major study has found – contradicting years of medical advice to the contrary.

Researchers led by Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, found that people who used the supplements were no less likely to suffer bone fractures than those who didn’t.

Their findings run counter to years of doctors telling patients to take the pills to aid calcium absorption and strengthen bones. About a third of American adults over 60 already take the pills every day.

Some scientists not involved in the research said it showed that people “shouldn’t hop vitamins left and right.” But others have not shown that people with osteoporosis should stop taking the vitamin.

The graph above shows the number of fractures recorded in the group that took vitamin D (left) and the number that took the placebo or dummy pill (right). This shows that there was no difference between the two groups, even though one increased their vitamin levels. Scientists say this should ‘put to rest’ any notion that vitamin D alone can strengthen bones

The study – published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine – recruited 26,000 participants from the general population.

It was not limited to people with vitamin D deficiency, low bone density or high risk of fractures. But tests revealed that thousands of participants had what would be considered low or insufficient vitamin D levels at the start of the study.

Participants were almost evenly split by gender with an average age of 67. About 20% were black, who may be at higher risk for low vitamin D levels because darker skin reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by the body, which is essential for making the vitamin.

What is vitamin D and how do I get it?

Vitamin D is a type of vitamin that the human body gets from food and produces when exposed to sunlight.

What does it do?

It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.

These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

People who don’t get enough vitamin D can suffer from bone deformities such as rickets in children and osteomalacia (a softening of the bones) in adults.

How to get enough vitamin D?

In the United States, most people will get the vitamin D they need from the sun between April and September, provided they go outside.

The body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D is also found in foods such as fatty fish, liver and egg yolks.

Should I take a supplement?

Doctors say people should consider taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months when sunlight is lower.

Other people may need to take vitamin D year-round because they are housebound or have dark skin, which reduces the amount of sunlight absorbed by their skin.

Children ages one to four should also receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms (μg) throughout the year.

What happens if I take too much?

Taking too much over a long period of time can lead to a dangerous buildup of calcium in the body, which can weaken bones and also damage the heart and kidneys.

Doctors advise not to take more than 800 international units (IU) per day.

Vitamin D is often sold in units called IUs. One microgram of vitamin D is equivalent to 40 IU.

In the study, participants were given vitamin D3 pills to take daily. It is a type used in many supplements because it is easier for the body to absorb.

They were then followed for five years and interviewed annually to find out if they were still taking the pills or if they had suffered a fracture.

Half took supplements containing up to 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D, which was the upper limit of the recommended daily intake.

The others were administered with a placebo.

The results showed that there was no difference in the number of fractures recorded in the two groups.

Of those who received vitamin D, 769 of 12,927 participants had fractures, the equivalent of 6%.

And for those given the placebo, 782 of 12,944 fractures suffered – also 6%.

Fractures were recorded on the pelvis, wrist, hips and in other areas.

Dr. Meryl LeBoff, the skeletal health expert who led the study, and her colleagues wrote in the article: “Vitamin D3 supplementation did not result in a significantly lower risk of fractures than placebo in middle-aged adults and generally healthy elderly people.”

The study is the first large randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of vitamin D, and marks the latest blow to suggestions that it can help build strong bones in otherwise healthy adults.

Initially, the researchers – who were funded by the government – were supposed to investigate what was the optimal intake of vitamin D per day.

Since 2011, the National Academy of Medicine – now the National Institutes of Health – had told people to take up to 800 IU daily to help prevent bone fractures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had also recommended vitamin D to help with bone health.

But upon review, scientists found that most studies suggesting vitamin D supplements were “inadequate”, leading them to question whether the pills were really necessary.

Writing in an editorial published with the article, Dr. Steven Cummings, a top osteoporosis expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said his findings should “put to rest” any notion that vitamin supplements Only D can prevent fractures.

“Providers should stop taking vitamin D supplements…recommend vitamin D supplements, and people should stop taking vitamin D supplements to prevent major illnesses or prolong life,” he said.

Over the years, successive studies have been conflicting on the usefulness of supplements – many have failed to show whether vitamin D is actually good for bone health.

The latest study is reliable due to its large sample size and strong participant adherence.

But that doesn’t show whether people who are vitamin D deficient benefit from the pills.

Dr Ethel Siris, an endocrinologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York who was not involved in the study, said it had a profound impact.

Elle NBC: “The bottom line is that, in general, people shouldn’t be blasting vitamins left and right. If you’re trying to prevent fractures, vitamin D alone isn’t enough.

“But adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, in my view, remains a necessary part of caring for people with osteoporosis.”

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