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Yet again, 800 IU of vitamin D was found to be barely enough to help bones – Lancet Oct 2013

The study:

  • Ignored how much vitamin D was given - most of the studies used < 800 IU.
  • Ignored if vitamin D2 vs Vitamin D3 was used - Vitamin D2 has far less benefit, and sometimes decreases the D3 levels
  • Ignored how often the vitamin D dose was given - they included studies which used annual doses
  • Ignored if Calcium or other cofactors were given
    • Only 5 of the 23 studies used >800 IU of vitamin D3 with Calcium
  • 6 studies actually found a benefit
    • but these benefits were cancelled out after averaging with the D2, no Calcium and low D3 studies

Amazing titles for the articles resulting from this single study

  1. Bad news for osteoporosis sufferers: Vitamin D supplements 'do not help bone health'
  2. Healthy adults may not need vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis (UPI)
  3. Latest word on vitamin D supplements is “No” (American Council for Science and Health)   far beyond bone mineral density
  4. Meta-analysis indicates widespread use of vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults unjustified
  5. More Evidence Against Vitamin D To Build Bones In Middle Age (NPR)
  6. Most people can ditch vitamin D supplements - research   far beyond bone mineral density
  7. New Clinical Metastudy Finds Vitamin D No Help to Middle Age Bones
  8. New Study: Vitamin D Pills Don’t Strengthen Healthy Bones (AARP)
  9. No bone boost from Vitamin D: Study finds supplements are waste of time for women trying to prevent osteoporosis
  10. No sign that vitamin D pills help aging bones, researchers say
  11. No Sign That Vitamin D Supplements Help Aging Bones: Study
  12. Osteoporosis Prevention: Vitamin D Supplements 'Do Not Strengthen Bones' (Huffpost)
  13. Questionable Benefits Of Vitamin D   far beyond bone mineral density
  14. Questions raised over vit D supplements   far beyond bone mineral density
  15. Review questions need for vitamin D supplements   far beyond bone mineral density
  16. Research takes shine off vitamin D   far beyond bone mineral density
  17. Researchers write off benefits of vitamin D   far beyond bone mineral density
  18. Review questions use of vitamin D in osteoporosis
  19. Supplements Of Vitamin D Won't Help Prevent Osteoporosis
  20. Study Finds Vitamin D Supplements Do Little To Improve Bone Health
  21. Study Reports Vitamin D Ineffective for Bone Health
  22. Study: Vitamin D Supplements Don’t Protect Against Fractures
  23. Use of Vitamin D to Treat Osteoporosis Unnecessary for Healthy Adults
  24. Vit D fails to boost bone density: study
  25. Vitamin D doesn't aid the prevention of osteoporosis
  26. Vitamin D for Bone Mineral Density? Little Evidence of Benefit
  27. Vitamin D for bones a waste of time?
  28. Vitamin D Ineffective for Preventing Osteoporosis    NYT
  29. Vitamin D 'no effect' on the healthy   far beyond bone mineral density
  30. Vitamin D supplements "no help" to healthy   far beyond bone mineral density
  31. Vitamin D not necessary to tackle osteoporosis - study
  32. Vitamin D Not So Great for Building Bones in Middle Aged Adults After All
  33. Vitamin D pills doesnt improve bone mineral density in adults
  34. Vitamin D pills doesn't improve bone mineral density in adults
  35. Vitamin D pills don't prevent fractures, research suggests (Consumer Reports)
  36. Vitamin D pills' effect on healthy bones queried
  37. Vitamin D pills 'unnecessary' for healthy older people   far beyond bone mineral density
  38. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent osteoporosis is not warranted, study concludes (BMJ)
  39. Vitamin D supplements at any dose don't appear to offer much benefit in keeping bones strong    Unlikely to have read even the abstract
  40. Vitamin D supplements do not prevent osteoporosis
  41. Vitamin D supplements–improves bone health or a waste of money?
  42. Vitamin D Supplements Ineffective in Osteoporosis Protection
  43. Vitamin D supplements may be waste of money (YouTube video)   far beyond bone mineral density
  44. Vitamin D supplements may not strengthen bones
  45. Vitamin D supplements may not increase bone density (Reuters, NYT, The Doctor's Channel)
  46. Vitamin D Supplements Not Beneficial on Healthy Adults, A Study Finds   far beyond bone mineral density
  47. Vitamin D supplements "no help" to healthy   far beyond bone mineral density
  48. Vitamin D supplements not needed by healthy adults   far beyond bone mineral density
  49. Vitamin D Supplements Not Needed, Doctors Say   far beyond bone mineral density
  50. Vitamin D supplements not recommended for healthy adults   far beyond bone mineral density
  51. Vitamin D Supplements Not Staving Off Osteoporosis
  52. Vitamin D Supplements Provide Very Low Bone Benefits
  53. Vitamin D supplements won't help bones in healthy adults, review concludes (CBS News)
  54. Vitamin D Supplements: Bone Health or Bogus?
  55. Vitamin D’s aid for bones doubted
  56. When It Comes to Bone, Vitamin D Supplementation Falls Short NEJM Journal watch
  57. Why I’m leaving the vitamin church (said she was taking 1000 milligrams (not micrograms) daily
  58. Will Vitamin D Prevent Osteoporosis – Probably Not

My guess as to why these titles were created

  1. People like to read articles that support their world view: i.e. that vitamins do not help
    Note: there are many different world views: medicine, sports, crime, religion, global warming, raising children, race, war, . . . .
  2. Article writers like to have lots of readers ( more readers ==> more advertising revenue)
  3. Article writers often do not have the time to critique the science in studies in any case.

Effects of vitamin D supplements on bone mineral density: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 11 October 2013, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61647-5C
Prof Ian R Reid MD a b i.reid at auckland.ac.nz , Mark J Bolland PhD a, Andrew Grey MD a b

Background: Findings from recent meta-analyses of vitamin D supplementation without co-administration of calcium have not shown fracture prevention, possibly because of insufficient power or inappropriate doses, or because the intervention was not targeted to deficient populations. Despite these data, almost half of older adults (older than 50 years) continue to use these supplements. Bone mineral density can be used to detect biologically significant effects in much smaller cohorts. We investigated whether vitamin D supplementation affects bone mineral density.

Methods: We searched Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Database, from inception to July 8, 2012, for trials assessing the effects of vitamin D (D3 or D2, but not vitamin D metabolites) on bone mineral density. We included all randomised trials comparing interventions that differed only in vitamin D content, and which included adults (average age >20 years) without other metabolic bone diseases. We pooled data with a random effects meta-analysis with weighted mean differences and 95% CIs reported. To assess heterogeneity in results of individual studies, we used Cochran's Q statistic and the I2 statistic. The primary endpoint was the percentage change in bone mineral density from baseline.

Findings: Of 3930 citations identified by the search strategy, 23 studies (mean duration 23·5 months, comprising 4082 participants, 92% women, average age 59 years) met the inclusion criteria. 19 studies had mainly white populations. Mean baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration was less than 50 nmol/L in eight studies (n=1791). In ten studies (n=2294), individuals were given vitamin D doses less than 800 IU per day. Bone mineral density was measured at one to five sites (lumbar spine, femoral neck, total hip, trochanter, total body, or forearm) in each study, so 70 tests of statistical significance were done across the studies. There were

  • six findings of significant benefit,
  • two of significant detriment, and the
  • rest were non-significant.

Only one study showed benefit at more than one site. Results of our meta-analysis showed a small benefit at the femoral neck (weighted mean difference 0·8%, 95% CI 0·2—1·4) with heterogeneity among trials (I2=67%, p<0·00027). No effect at any other site was reported, including the total hip. We recorded a bias toward positive results at the femoral neck and total hip.

Interpretation: Continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate.


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PDF (with comment/editorial is attached at the bottom of this page

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  • Comment on the Lancet article Nutraingredients
    In those trials which used both Calcium and Vitamin D (half of the trials) there was a 11% reduction in hip fractures
  • Vitamin D Supplementation: Who, and How Much? Medscape Jan 2014
    Our commentator has given this study a ranking of "Changes Clinical Practice," with the conclusion that vitamin D supplementation should not be prescribed to individuals without risk factors

Comment by VitaminDWiki: It has been noticed for many years that

  1. Often need more than 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 to PREVENT problems with bone health
  2. Often need >4,000 IU of vitamin D3 to TREAT bone health problems
  3. Calcium, Vitamin K-2, and Magnesium also improve bone health: vitamin D monotherapy is not enough
  4. Too much Vitamin A reduces bone health
  5. Enough Vitamin D3 reduces fractures: by improving bone health AND improving muscle reaction time so as to reduce falls
  6. Once the bone bridges have been broken down, we should not expect to be able to rebuild them.
    Increasing the bone mass makes the bone denser, not necessarily stronger

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Page last modified on 23 January, 2014


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{#s as of April 10, 2014}