NEW YORK — People older than 50 often take vitamin D supplements thinking they're making their bones stronger and preventing osteoporosis.
But a review of past studies finds the supplements don't usually increase bone density. Researchers said they aren't necessary for most healthy adults.
Among people with osteoporosis, bones become weak and fragile because of the loss of bone density that often comes with aging. Fragile bones are more likely to break. A common prevention strategy is to take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. But it's not commonly found in foods, unless they're fortified, like most milk. The body makes vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight.
Although calcium is necessary for strong bones, there has been some concern about the safety of taking calcium supplements.
“Recent evidence has indicated that calcium, with or without vitamin D, probably increases the risk of heart attacks,” Dr. Ian Reid said in an email.
“Therefore, there is a renewed interest in the value of using vitamin D alone for optimizing bone health,” Reid added. He is a professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the lead author of the study. Reid and his colleagues collected 23 past studies on vitamin D and bone density and re-analyzed their findings.
The studies included a total of 4,082 participants. The participants were in their late 50s, on average, and 92 percent of them were women.
The researchers found vitamin D supplements at any dose didn't make much of a difference for bone density.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.