A recent study by Queen Mary University of London and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that vitamin D supplements might not be as beneficial for children’s bone health as previously thought.
Children’s bone fractures are a significant global health concern, with about one in three kids experiencing a fracture by age 18.
These injuries can lead to disabilities or reduced quality of life. Vitamin D is known for its role in bone health, leading many to believe that vitamin D supplements could strengthen bones in children, especially those with low vitamin D levels.
The Study in Mongolia
The researchers chose Mongolia for their study because many children there suffer from vitamin D deficiency and bone fractures. Over three years, they gave 8,851 schoolchildren, aged 6 to 13, a weekly dose of vitamin D.
At the start, 95.5% of these kids didn’t have enough vitamin D. The supplements successfully increased their vitamin D levels to normal.
However, surprisingly, these higher levels didn’t reduce the children’s risk of fractures or make their bones stronger. The team measured bone strength in 1,438 children using a special type of ultrasound, but they found no significant improvement.
Implications of the Findings
These results suggest that vitamin D supplements alone might not be enough to prevent bone fractures or improve bone strength in children, even those who don’t have enough vitamin D.
Dr. Ganmaa Davaasambuu from Harvard suggests that combining vitamin D with calcium might be more effective, as this approach works in adults.
However, this trial didn’t include calcium with vitamin D, which might explain why they didn’t see any benefits in bone health.
Professor Adrian Martineau from Queen Mary University of London noted that children with severe vitamin D deficiency leading to rickets (a bone disease) weren’t included in the study for ethical reasons.
They needed immediate treatment, not a placebo. So, the study’s findings mainly apply to children with low vitamin D levels but without serious bone issues.
Continuing Importance of Vitamin D
Despite these findings, getting enough vitamin D is still crucial for children, especially for preventing rickets.
The UK government recommends a daily vitamin D intake of 400 IU for children, which remains an essential guideline.
This large-scale study challenges the common belief that vitamin D supplements can strengthen children’s bones and prevent fractures. It highlights the need for further research, possibly exploring the combination of vitamin D and calcium.
For now, ensuring adequate vitamin D intake remains a priority, but relying solely on supplements for bone strength might not be as effective as once thought.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about what you need to know about supplements and cancer, and this supplement could reduce coughing, congestion, and sore throat.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that vitamin D can help reduce inflammation, and results showing vitamin K may lower your heart disease risk by a third.
The research findings can be found in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
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