Media reports on effectiveness of vitamin D supplements

29 Nov 2016

Recent government advice on vitamin D supplements has come under fire over the past few days in a number of articles in national newspapers.

The reports are based on a review of existing evidence published recently in the British Medical Journal.

Following the publication of a report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), Public Health England recommended that everyone in the UK should consider taking 10mcg of vitamin D supplements daily in the autumn and winter.

Now researchers from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Auckland have published an article saying, despite much good-quality research into vitamin D, there is no evidence that taking vitamin D supplements alone reduces the risk of fractures or falls, or improves bone strength.

“'There is no consistent evidence that vitamin D supplementation improves musculoskeletal outcomes' if you're not in the at-risk groups such as older people and certain ethnic groups,” the report says.

Sarah Leyland, Osteoporosis Nurse Consultant at the National Osteoporosis Society, said: “Public Health England made their recommendations based on a report from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition(SACN). 

"They recommended that, to be on the safe side, everyone should get 10 micrograms daily from food or supplements.

"A vitamin D supplement is recommended all year round If you aren’t exposed to much sunlight – for example, if you cover up your skin for cultural reasons; you are frail, housebound or confined indoors for long periods or you use sunblock for medical reasons.

"For everyone else, the recommendation is to consider taking a 10 microgram (400IU) supplement to ensure you get the vitamin D you need especially during the winter months. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as people with darker skin because of their ethnic origin.

"Babies under one, who are not receiving 500 ml or more of formula milk fortified with vitamin D and children from aged 1 to 4 years are also recommended to take a supplement.”

For more information on vitamin D supplements see our website. You can also read more at NHS Choices.

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