If you’ve been spending money on vitamin D supplements, you may be able to save some cash. Recent scientific findings show that, contrary to popular belief, these supplements don’t do anything to improve bone health.
Doctors Mark Bolland and Andrew Grey from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, along with Dr. Alison Avenell from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, took a look at a set of randomized controlled trials. In each trial, there were adults taking vitamin D to improve bone health. The doctors evaluated the findings of each of these to determine if vitamin D supplements prevent bone loss, fractures, and falls.
So, how does vitamin D impact your overall bone health?
Vitamin D Supplements Don’t Do Much… For Bone Health
The review took a look at 81 trials including more than 53,000 participants. What they found was that vitamin D supplements have no significant impact on the risk of fractures, broken bones, or falls. This was true no matter what dose they took.
“Since the last major review of [the] evidence in 2014, more than 30 randomized, controlled trials on vitamin D and bone health have been published, nearly doubling the evidence available,” said Dr. Bolland.
It was concluded that there is little justification that vitamin D supplements will help maintain or improve musculoskeletal health. Because of these findings, the researchers involved hope doctors will consider altering their guidelines. Although vitamin D supplements won’t harm your health, they are largely unnecessary for maintaining bone health.
How to Get Vitamin D Naturally
You probably don’t need to take vitamin D at all. The researchers pointed out that natural vitamin D, through sunlight or vitamin D-rich food, can help your body absorb calcium. This is what will help you build and maintain bone strength. However, supplements do not have the same effect.
It is recommended that you get 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week. This will improve your overall health more than any supplement on the market.
People in need of additional vitamin D can also get it through vitamin D-rich foods. These foods include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, tuna, sardines, orange juice, milk, yogurt, margarine, eggs, beef liver, and Swiss cheese. Eating just three ounces of salmon can provide you with 112% of the daily recommended vitamin D.
Who Needs Vitamin D Supplements?
This doesn’t go to say everyone should flush their supplements down the toilet. However, before you go wasting money on more vitamin D pills, you should chat with your doctor.
Older individuals are more likely to need more vitamin D than others. There are also a number of medical conditions that may require vitamin D supplements. For instance, people with inflammatory bowel disease or individuals who’ve had a gastric bypass surgery may need supplements because their bodies cannot absorb vitamin D from food. Individuals living in areas of the world where it is difficult to get sun exposure may also need supplements.
All in all, until another study proves anything different, vitamin D supplements are largely a waste of time and money.