There is not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements, according to an article in a leading medical journal.
Earlier this year, Public Health England (PHE) said vitamin D was vital for bone and muscle health but warned that people were generally not getting enough from sunlight during the winter months.
It said everyone should ensure they were getting 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, and should consider a supplement during the autumn and winter.
But a new article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concludes that: “Current evidence does not support the use of vitamin D supplementation to prevent disease.”
Three experts from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Auckland, New Zealand, argued that people at risk of vitamin D deficiency should be advised about sunlight exposure and diet and offered low dose supplements.
But those who are not at risk should eat a healthy and balanced diet with food containing vitamin D and get regular short bursts of sunshine.
Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D for most people and it can be found in a small number of foods including oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks, and in fortified food such as breakfast cereals.
Not having enough vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and a condition called osteomalacia in adults which results in bone pain and tenderness.
The authors of the BMJ piece said that analysis of randomised controlled trials show that vitamin D supplementation alone does not improve musculoskeletal outcomes, such as reducing bone fractures.
However, in a supplementary article, Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, wrote that advice to take a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms a day is backed by a Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition review of the evidence on musculoskeletal health outcomes.
He said: “Public Health England advises that eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting some sun means you are likely to get enough vitamin D during spring and summer. But during autumn and winter the only source is diet and so everyone should consider a daily supplement.”