The Latest Evidence from Vitamin D Intervention Trials for Skeletal and Non-skeletal Outcomes


Vitamin D has long been considered a central part of the treatment paradigm for osteoporosis. Initial studies in high-risk populations with widespread vitamin D deficiency found a reduction of both vertebral and non-vertebral fractures. Subsequent studies in the general population have yielded mixed but mostly disappointing results both for skeletal and especially non-skeletal outcomes. Recent sequential trial meta-analyses suggest that future studies are likely to be futile given the overall disappointing result. However, mega-trials are still in progress, and additional results have been released. This narrative review aims to evaluate new literature to determine if there has been any substantial change in the message. In conclusion, there is no longer a strong case for initiating vitamin D alone trials in the general adult population, irrespective of age and gender, for significant health outcomes such as fractures, cardiovascular disease and cancer. New studies should focus on risk groups and take directions from the Heaney criteria for evaluation of threshold nutrients. Indeed, real benefits may still be reaped by directing vitamin D supplementation to persons with proven or likely vitamin D deficiency. Further, the role of dietary calcium as a critical co-nutrient remains controversial and could contribute to the discrepancy between studies in terms of cancer outcomes and possibly falls and fractures.

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Correspondence to Bo Abrahamsen.

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Mr Sami reports no conflicts of interest. Dr. Abrahamsen reports institutional research contracts and personal speakers fees from UCB, institutional research contracts from Novartis, personal speakers fees from Eli Lily and from Amgen, outside the submitted work.

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Sami, A., Abrahamsen, B. The Latest Evidence from Vitamin D Intervention Trials for Skeletal and Non-skeletal Outcomes. Calcif Tissue Int 106, 88–93 (2020).

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  • Vitamin D
  • Outcomes
  • Fracture
  • Falls
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac