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4 Clinical evidence base suggesting the improvement in health outcomes with vitamin D3 supplementation in people aged ≥ 50 years in Ireland and the UK
  1. Emily Royle1,
  2. Kirsty Pourshahidi1,
  3. Emeir McSorley1,
  4. JJ Strain1,
  5. Larry Lacey2,
  6. David Armstrong1,3,
  7. Sumantra Ray1,4 and
  8. Pamela Magee1
  1. 1Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Ulster University, Coleraine, UK
  2. 2Lacey Solutions Ltd. Skerries, Co. Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology, Western Health and Social Care Trust, Londonderry, UK
  4. 4NNEdPro Global Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, Cambridge, UK


Background Vitamin D deficiency, defined as a circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration <25nmol/L, is a global health issue associated with fractures, all-cause mortality and cancer mortality. Optimizing vitamin D status through supplementation, therefore may improve health-related quality of life, whilst simultaneously reducing healthcare costs associated with these conditions.

Objectives This clinical review investigates the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on these outcomes in adults.

Methods Literature review was undertaken between 1st February – 31stMarch, 2021. Search terms included ‘vitamin D supplementation’, ‘vitamin D status’ and ‘risk of fracture’, ‘cancer mortality’ and ‘all-cause mortality’.

Results A total of 11 systematic reviews and meta-analyses in populations aged ≥50 years of age were reviewed. Six reviews demonstrated a significant reduction in the risk of fracture, cancer mortality, and all-cause mortality following vitamin D supplementation (table 1). Of the five reviews showing no effect of supplementation, all were conducted in fracture risk populations. Three meta-analyses included studies with participants with an inadequate baseline vitamin D status [25(OH)D < 50nmol/L]; of these, one review, which investigated fracture risk, showed no benefit of supplementation. Potential beneficial effects of supplementation may have been masked in some studies through the inclusion of vitamin D replete populations.

Abstract 4 Table 1

Reviews that reported beneficial effects of vitamin D supplementation on fracture risk, cancer mortality, and all-cause mortality

Conclusion While there is some evidence of a beneficial effect of vitamin D supplementation in reducing fracture risk, all-cause mortality and cancer morality, further research is required. Conflicting findings are likely due to the heterogeneity in study design with the inclusion of young populations, short follow-up times, and vitamin D replete participants at baseline potentially concealing the beneficial effects of supplementation. Further clinical research in vitamin D insufficient/deficient populations ≥50 years of age within the UK and Ireland is warranted, with the results informing the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of vitamin D3 supplementation at the population level.

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