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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

Taking vitamin D is pointless, say scientists

A new study published in a medical journal has found that there is no evidence that vitamin D actually has any health benefits.

Image: Facepalming statue via Shutterstock

IF YOU’RE ONE of the many people who take vitamin D supplements, you may have been wasting your time.

A major new study has found that there is no evidence that vitamin D actually has any health benefits – and that several multi-million dollar trials which are currently underway are unlikely to find any gain in taking it.

Vitamin D, sometimes known as a ‘sunshine’ vitamin because it can be made in the body from exposure to sunlight, has long been thought to be necessary for healthy bones and teeth, normal muscle function and cell division, as well as the absorption of calcium.

However a study published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology medical journal found that vitamin D supplements do nothing to prevent bone fracture, heart attacks, stroke or cancer. Researchers concluded that vitamin D supplements – which are taken by nearly half of adults in the US – probably have little, if any health benefit.

The study looked at evidence from 40 randomised controlled trials.

Previous studies had found that a deficiency of vitamin D was strongly associated with poor health and early death. However the new research indicated that the association is not actually causal – in other words, that taking a supplement of the vitamin is not likely to have any benefit, and that low levels of vitamin D are a consequence, rather than a cause, of ill health.

The research carried out at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Commenting on the study, Professor Karl Michaelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden wrote that “without stringent indications – i.e. supplementing those without true vitamin D insufficiency – there is a legitimate fear that vitamin D supplementation might actually cause net harm”.

Read: Is Vitamin C an effective remedy for the common cold? >

Read: Vitamins do not reduce men’s risk of heart trouble: study >

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