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New Studies Cast Doubts on Vitamin D Supplements, but Do the Experts Agree?

August 09, 2022

Those popping Vitamin D as part of their daily routine are facing one disillusioning study after another showing the supplements have little to no effect on their health, although one Hartford HealthCare registered dietitian said continuing the regimen still has merits.

A study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine asserts that Vitamin D, with or without calcium, has no effect on reducing bone fracture rates. One of the study authors actually urged people to stop taking the supplements.

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Yet, Chris Barrett, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with the Hartford HealthCare Bone & Joint Institute, said he would encourage people found to be Vitamin D deficient to take the supplement.

“In someone who is chronically deficient, it is still a valid goal to raise the levels in their body as Vitamin D plays many roles in the body,” Barrett said.

The study, he continued, raised several questions for him.

“When looking at the study, they never disclosed the brand of Vitamin D, which can be a major issue as dietary supplements are loosely regulated, placing the purity of products in question and questionable accuracy of ingredients and amounts on the label,” Barrett said. “Optimally, they should be assessed by a third party. Secondly, this study contained a massive amount of subjects, making dietary assessment difficult, yet they never addressed dietary intake with the exception of dairy servings consumed per day. Lastly, calcium is optimally absorbed in 500 mg increments and it was not disclosed in the paper how it was dosed, they just provided 1200mg of calcium per day.”

In addition to remaining on the Vitamin D dosage prescribed by their provider, Barrett said people with osteoporosis can improve their bond strength in several ways, including:

  • Follow a well-balanced exercise program that includes resistance training or lifting weights. “Here at the Bone and Joint Institute, we have a class for people over 60 to help them combat osteoporosis and sarcopenia, or muscle loss, as they age,” he said.
  • Add natural sources of protein and micronutrients like magnesium and Vitamin K to your diet.

“This is where working with a registered dietitian can support individuals with osteoporosis and maximize their overall dietary intake,” Barrett said.