Despite the widespread popularity of Vitamin D supplements, a new study from New Zealand claims the opposite - they may actually have very little health benefits.

For a long time, Vitamin D has been touted as highly effective as a cure-all for various diseases and illnesses, and that it could protect against certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.

The new study, which was published in the Lancet Medical Journal, investigated whether Vitamin D supplements enhance bone density. It studied nine previous trials and found that, "Vitamin D supplementation without co-administration of calcium have not shown fracture prevention, possibly because of insufficient power or inappropriate doses, or because the intervention was not targeted to deficient populations."

It was the conclusion of the study, led by Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland, that, "Continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate."

The study, which examined about 40 other different trials, also mentioned that despite the insufficient effects on Vitamin D on bone density, middle-aged adults and those over 50 years still continue to take the supplement. However, "there seems little justification currently for prescribing vitamin D to prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer, or fractures in otherwise healthy people living in the community," said Bolland.

A different study seems to corroborate this. Last month, Philippe Autier at the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France found that vitamin D supplements are not at all helpful in preventing diseases ranging from cancer to heart disease.

However, a study supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and published in Osteoporosis International, has found that Vitamin D supplements are effective in reducing the risk of hip fractures in post-menopausal women who have been taking the supplement for five years or more.

Vitamin D is a key component of bones, teeth and muscles formation. It is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is also derived from foods such as oily fish, egg yolks, cheese, and fortified milk. The consumption of Vitamin D supplements are so popular that the public spends around $28 billion on them. The latest study, however, may make the public think twice before buying the supplements.

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