Is it time to scrap your vitamin D supplement?

Currently, Public Health England advises that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement from October to March. This is now being contested by some leading experts in the field.

A bit of background.

Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin — luckily, no one is contesting that. It not only plays a role in bone and muscle health but is also essential for your immune system. And low levels are linked to a range of conditions like osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression.

Your body is able to make vitamin D itself but there’s a catch, it has to be exposed to sunlight to do this. We all know that the sun is often a distant memory in the UK during winter. Even if it peaks its head out, you’re usually rugged up in lots of layers so your skin won’t be exposed to it anyway. Now, it’s possible to get all the vitamin D you need from food — but most of us fail to do this. In fact, 45% of Thriva customers had low vitamin D levels last winter!

Because low vitamin D levels are so common, Public Health England advises that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement from October to March. Sounds like solid advice, right? Read on.

The latest research.

A recent meta-analysis reviewed data from 81 studies and concluded that vitamin D supplements do nothing for bone health. So they’ve urged everyone to reconsider taking a supplement.

The researchers do agree that more evidence is needed about the possible benefits of vitamin D supplements for reasons beyond bone health. But we’re going to have to stay tuned for these results!

The last word.

The recommendation from Public Health England currently remains unchanged — take a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter.

Also, if you’re deficient in vitamin D, there are many trials showing the benefits of supplementation. So it’s definitely essential in some scenarios. In an ideal world, everyone would know what their vitamin D levels are, especially during the winter months, to see if a supplement is right for them (or not).

The finer details.

The meta-analysis was completed by Prof Mark Bolland, Prof Andrew Grey, and Prof Alison Avenell. It’s published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.