### Vitamin D Supplements Don’t Prevent Bone Fractures in Children, Analysis Shows
A recent analysis has found that vitamin D supplements do not prevent bone fractures in children. Vitamin D, which is naturally present in certain fatty meats and fish oil, is produced when sunlight shines on human skin. It has been linked to bone health and plays a role in strengthening the skeleton through bone mineralization.
The analysis aimed to assess the impact of vitamin D on children’s fracture risk and focused on a community of schoolchildren in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This particular community was chosen because vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake are widespread among its residents.
The study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, involved approximately 8,800 public schoolchildren aged 6 to 13 who did not already use vitamin D supplements. At the start of the study, 95.5 percent of the children were found to be vitamin D deficient. Half of the participants received weekly vitamin D supplements of 14,000 IU, while the other half received a placebo.
After three years of follow-up, researchers discovered that the children who took the supplements had higher overall vitamin D levels. However, the rate of bone fractures in this group remained the same as the rate in the placebo group. During the study period, 6.4 percent of the children who received vitamin D experienced one or more bone fractures, compared to 6.1 percent of the children in the placebo group. The effect did not significantly differ based on the children’s sex or calcium intake.
Although the fracture risk among the Mongolian children was high, nearly double that of a group of Norwegian children in another study, the researchers stated that the fracture rate in their analysis provided more statistical power to the results. Additionally, bone mineral density testing did not reveal any significant differences between the children who took vitamin D and those who did not.
The researchers suggested that the supplements may have failed to prevent fractures because they were not paired with calcium, which is also essential for strengthening bones. Ganmaa Davaasambuu, an associate professor in Harvard Medical School’s department of medicine and the study’s first author, explained that vitamin D supplementation works best for fracture prevention in adults when calcium is given simultaneously. The absence of calcium supplementation alongside vitamin D in this study may explain the lack of significant findings.
It is worth noting that the study excluded children with rickets, a condition characterized by softening of the bones due to vitamin deficiencies. Low-dose, daily vitamin D supplementation has been proven effective in preventing rickets, making it the one condition where there is conclusive and longstanding evidence of the effectiveness of vitamin D supplements.
Overall, the analysis suggests that vitamin D supplements alone may not be effective in preventing bone fractures in children. Further research is needed to determine the potential benefits of combining vitamin D with calcium supplementation for fracture prevention in this population.
Original Story at www.washingtonpost.com – 2023-12-09 14:00:00