Vitamin D supplementation in healthy kids pointless: Study

According to a Cochrane Systematic Review released on October 6th, yesterday vitamin D supplements when given to healthy children with normal vitamin D levels does not improve bone density at the hip, lumbar spine, forearm or in the body as a whole. Experts believe that bone density is a major determinant of bone strength and measures the amount of bone mineral present at different sites. A healthy bone density prevents future onset of osteoporosis - a condition where bones are weak, brittle and fracture easily.

According to lead researcher Dr Tania Winzenberg, from the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, Hobart, “By measuring bone density, you can assess how well an intervention such as vitamin D supplementation improves bone health.”

For the study they looked at existing literature for randomized controlled trials that had compared giving children vitamin D supplements with giving placebo. They found six studies that together involved 343 participants receiving placebo or dummy medicine and 541 receiving vitamin D. All participants had taken vitamin D or the placebo for at least three months and were aged between one month and 19 years old. The authors wrote, “Vitamin D supplementation had no statistically significant effects on total bone mineral content, hip bone mineral density (BMD) or forearm BMD.” There was a trend (p=0.07) to a small effect on lumbar spine BMD. The supplements had little effect whether given at high or low doses.

Dr Winzenberg said, “Vitamin D supplementation had no statistically significant effects on bone density at any site in healthy children. There was, however, some indication that children who had low levels of vitamin D in their blood might benefit from supplementation… We now need randomized controlled studies focused on vitamin D deficient children to confirm if vitamin D supplements would help this particular group.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Pete Pete United Kingdom says:

    I have read the paper. It is a case of very careful analysis of someone elses poorly conceived experiments. The doses considered were between 133 IU daily to 14,000 IU per week (2,000IU a day). Only the highest of these amounts is not going to be swamped by the effect of sunshine (upto 20,000IU a day on full skin exposure). It also says that "Where there were more than one vitamin D dosage group in the studies, we analysed the data after combining all dosage groups together, compared to placebo." So if there was an effect in the highest group it would be hidden by the lowest.

    Instead of publishing a press release can we have a critical analysis of the paper.  The analysis looks fairly okay but the work is basically flawed becuase the original work is flawed.  If it had analysed the highest vitamin d levels alone then there may have been an effect.  However, many now think that 2,000IU a day is rather low.

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