New vitamin D trials have 'little chance' of showing health benefits, warns analysis

New vitamin D trials have 'little chance' of showing health benefits, warns analysis

Randomised controlled trials on supplementation with vitamin D seem to show that the vitamin has little causal effect on our health outcomes, according to a new meta-analysis which suggests that future research is 'unlikely' to alter such conclusions.

The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, examined the existing evidence from 40 randomised controlled trials - concluding that vitamin D supplementation does not prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer, or bone fractures in the general population by more than 15%.

Led by Dr Mark Bolland from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, the team behind the new analysis added that as a result vitamin D supplements probably provide little, if any, health benefit - and that future randomised trials with similar designs are 'unlikely' to reveal conclusions any different to those already published.

"Findings from observational studies have shown vitamin D insufficiency to be associated with a wide variety of disorders such as fractures, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer," noted Bolland and his team. "Such findings have led to calls for widespread vitamin D supplementation. However, some researchers have suggested that such recommendations should not be made without supportive trial data, and they have therefore called for randomised controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation with non-skeletal endpoints as primary outcomes."

Bolland and his colleagues used this trial data to perform several types of meta-analysis including a 'futility analysis', which predicts the potential of future study results to sway existing evidence - the results of which indicate that the effect of vitamin D, taken with or without calcium, on heart attack, stroke, cancer, and total fracture lies below a 'futility threshold'. 

"In view of our findings, there is little justification for prescribing vitamin D supplements to prevent myocardial infarction or ischaemic heart disease, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, cancer, or fractures, or to reduce the risk of death in unselected community-dwelling individuals. Investigators and funding bodies should consider the probable futility of undertaking similar trials of vitamin D to investigate any of these endpoints," said the team.

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Comments (11)

William Bowers - 14 Feb 2014 | 05:56

Lancet is Biased by Drug Companies

First,the do not discuss the difference between synthetic and Whole Foods.. Investigate for yourselves.Physicians rely on testing and funding thru drug companies. The bulk of Doctors education is thru these same Big Pharma Groups. Trust more in the Dr.Andrew Weil's and Dr. Mehmet Oz's who have no dog in the fight. Drug Companies bottom line is being crushed by an understanding of Whole Foods. Synthetics are toxic to the body.It was a 1960's ruling by Estes Kefauver making synthetic supplements the standard for testing in the U.S. We are what we eat,food not chemicals. Respectfully, William J.Bowers

14-Feb-2014 at 17:56 GMT

Fennel - 12 Feb 2014 | 07:28

supporting the interests of big pharma

The business of pharmaceuticals needs sick people. Studies can be designed to bring out the required results so what was the dose of vitamin d used, what was the length of the study, and what levels of vitamin d in the blood was achieved. The RDA is hardly any use at all and will not make a difference, but if you take 5,000iu daily there is a good increase in blood levels that can make a difference. See the vitamin d council online for further information.

12-Feb-2014 at 19:28 GMT
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