Vitamin D supplementation in healthy children

January 01, 0001

Vitamin D supplementation in healthy children

There has been much discussion of the role of vitamin D and health, especially bone health. These Australian researchers examined the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation for improving bone mineral density in children and adolescents via a systematic review and meta-analysis. They searched Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, Embase, CINAHL, AMED, and ISI Web of Science along with conference. They included placebo controlled randomized controlled trials using vitamin D supplementation in healthy pediatric patients (aged 1 month to 19 years) with bone density measurements.

The researchers found: "From 1653 potential references, six studies, totalling 343 participants receiving placebo and 541 receiving vitamin D, contributed data to meta-analyses. Vitamin D supplementation had no statistically significant effects on total body bone mineral content or on bone mineral density of the hip or forearm. There was a trend to a small effect on lumbar spine bone mineral density (standardised mean difference 0.15). Effects were similar in studies of participants with high compared with low serum vitamin D levels, although there was a trend towards a larger effect with low vitamin D for total body bone mineral content. In studies with low serum vitamin D, significant effects on total body bone mineral content and lumbar spine bone mineral density were roughly equivalent to a 2.6% and 1.7% percentage point greater change from baseline in the supplemented group."

The researchers concluded: "It is unlikely that vitamin D supplements are beneficial in children and adolescents with normal vitamin D levels. The planned subgroup analyses by baseline serum vitamin D level suggest that vitamin D supplementation of deficient children and adolescents could result in clinically useful improvements, particularly in lumbar spine bone mineral density and total body bone mineral content, but this requires confirmation."

This study finds no benefit for bone health with supplementation in healthy children, but suggests there may be benefits in vitamin D deficient children.

For the full abstract, click here.

BMJ 342:c7254, 25 January 2011
© 2011 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
Effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone density in healthy children: systematic review and meta-analysis. Tania Winzenberg, Sandi Powell, Kelly Anne Shaw, Graeme Jones. Correspondence to T Winzenberg: [email protected]

Category: M. Musculoskeletal. Keywords: vitamin D, bone, supplementation, bone mineral density, deficiency, systematic review with meta-analysis, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 8 February 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.