Vitamin D supplements alone may not improve children’s bone health

two children play soccer in a park

December 13, 2023 – Vitamin D supplementation in children can boost their levels of the nutrient, but does not appear to reduce their risk of bone fractures, according to a clinical trial run by a team of researchers including Ganmaa Davaasambuu, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Vitamin D plays an important role in helping the body to absorb dietary calcium and incorporate it into bone. Some previous observational studies had found that low vitamin D levels in children were associated with a higher risk of bone fractures, but a clinical trial was needed to shed light on the causal link between the two, Davaasambuu said in a December 5 article about the new study.

The study compared two groups of school-age children in Mongolia. One group received vitamin D supplements and the other did not. The researchers found that while the supplements boosted vitamin D levels, they ultimately did not reduce fracture risk or improve bone strength.

Davaasambuu noted that many children in the study were deficient in calcium, potentially explaining why vitamin D supplementation alone was not effective. “For future research, it would be valuable to investigate whether administering calcium supplements in conjunction with vitamin D could yield potential advantages,” she said.

Read the article: Lancet: Trial of vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures in children

Read the study: Vitamin D supplements for fracture prevention in schoolchildren in Mongolia: analysis of secondary outcomes from a multicentre, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial