If you are over 70 and are taking a higher dose of vitamin D supplements to improve your bone strength and reduce the risk of falls, a new research reveals that there is little you will benefit by taking the supplement.
A Newcastle University-led study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has backed previous research which shows there is no gain for older people taking vitamin D. Almost 400 people, aged 70 years and above, were randomly allocated to one of three doses of vitamin D given once a month for a year — the doses were 300 µg, 600 µg or 1200 µg (equivalent to a daily dose of 10 µg, 20 µg or 40 µg).
The study’s aim was to measure in these older people the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the change in bone mineral density (BMD), a recognised indicator of bone strength, and changes in bone metabolism. The findings revealed that there was no change in BMD over 12 months between the three doses. However, the study did show that doses equivalent to 40 µg a day are safe in an older population and there was a beneficial effect on bone metabolism up to the highest dose.
The survey suggests that older people should focus on maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, ensure adequate sun exposure and exercise regularly to keep their bones as strong as possible. While some may need to take vitamin D supplements, there is little benefit of taking more than 10 µg a day.
(The author is a lecturer, Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine)