Researchers behind a new meta-analysis of research into the effects of vitamin D say they found no evidence that daily vitamin D supplementation protects bones and muscles.

The results of the review, which looked at 81 randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplements involving 53,000 people, are published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

When they looked at the pooled analyses, the researchers found that vitamin D had no effect on total fracture. Results were similar in randomised controlled trials of high-dose versus low-dose vitamin D. There were no clinically relevant between-group differences in bone mineral density at any site.

Commenting on the results, the researchers wrote: “Our findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation does not prevent fractures or falls, or have clinically meaningful effects on bone mineral density. There were no differences between the effects of higher and lower doses of vitamin D. There is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health. This conclusion should be reflected in clinical guidelines.”
Talking to The Times, Alison Avenell, of the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), a senior author of the study, said: “One of the reasons for this review is frustration that nobody seems to be taking much notice of the fact that evidence isn’t really there.”

The researchers argue that their study’s findings justify a suspension of official public health advice in the UK, and countries in northern Europe, to supplement with vitamin D during the winter months.