High dose vitamin D has no increased benefit for bone mineral density

A 12-month study concludes that the benefit of vitamin D on bone health in older adults remains unclear.

Vitamin D capsules

Monthly dosing of vitamin D3 supplements in older adults does not significantly increase or slow loss of bone mineral density (BMD), the results of a recent study show (8 January 2019)[1]

The study involved 379 people aged 70 and over who were randomly assigned to a monthly dose of oral vitamin D at one of three doses — 12,000, 24,000 or 48,000 international units (IU) – equivalent to a daily dose of 10, 20 or 40 micrograms (400, 800 and 1,600 IU).

After 12 months, there were dose-dependent increases in serum concentrations of vitamin D3 in the three groups. However, there was no significant difference in change in BMD, measured at the hip, between the groups. There was also no difference in rates of adverse events.

The researchers said the findings suggested that either there was no effect of any of the doses on BMD, or all three doses attenuated the expected BMD decline to the same extent.

They concluded that monthly vitamin D dosing was safe and effective for reversing vitamin D deficiency but that the benefit of vitamin D on bone health in older adults remain unclear.

“The evidence from clinical trials remains conflicting,” the authors concluded in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

  • This headline was amended on 3 April 2019 to clarify that the study was looking at levels of vitamin D that are higher than the recommended daily dose


[1] Aspray T, Chadwick T, Francis R et al. Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in older people to optimize bone health. Am J Clin Nutr 2019;109:207–217. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy280

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, March 2019, Vol 11, No 3;11(3):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206147

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