Doctors have known for years that vitamin D is necessary for bone health, although studies on the matter have been very inconsistent over the years. Some studies showed that vitamin D supplements do lower the risk of bone fractures for patients, while others find no benefit at all to these popular supplements.
The latest study, however, clears up the confusion. This study involved a re-analysis of information from 11 clinical studies of nearly 31,000 people over the age of 65, finding that vitamin D supplements do in fact provide a reduced risk of bone fractures — when they are taken in high enough doses.
This major study found that 4% of participants fractured their hip during the combined studies while 12% of participants fractured another bone. It also found that daily supplements of 800 IU of vitamin D per day had absolutely no effect on lowering this bone fracture risk, whether it’s taken with calcium or without.
Increasing your daily dose of vitamin D over 800 IU per day, however, offers a dramatic 40% reduced risk of hip fractures and a 14% lower risk of other bone fractures. This study shows finally the true benefit of taking daily vitamin D supplements, provided you consume a high enough dose.
This study also explained why previous results were so conflicting, as most studies used relatively small doses of vitamin D that were not high enough to produce any results.
Recommendations about Vitamin D Supplements
So should you begin taking 800 IU vitamin D supplements if you’re over 65? The answer is, maybe. The researchers who performed this study did not provide this recommendation, although the Institute of Medicine recommends people over the age of 70 get at least an 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Remember, though, that vitamin D can come from many sources, including fortified food and sunlight. It’s also important to realize that the necessary dose to support bone health varies by person and is based on the individual’s baseline levels of vitamin D in their body.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force, or USPSTF, recently issued guidelines that there is not enough evidence to recommend daily supplements of vitamin D to lower the risk of bone fractures. The team that performed the study does feel that this new research may warrant a revision of the recommendations.