Do vitamin D supplements help prevent respiratory tract infections?BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j456 (Published 15 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j456
- Mark J Bolland, associate professor1,
- Alison Avenell, professor2
- 1Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
- 2Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
- Correspondence to: A Avenell
Vitamin D supplementation is a hot topic, provoking passionate arguments for and against widespread supplementation. Recently in The BMJ we discussed the evidence, concluding that vitamin D supplements should not be taken by adults to prevent non-musculoskeletal disease.1 Three months later comes a meta-analysis by Martineau and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.i6583), concluding that prevention of acute respiratory tract infection is a “major new indication for vitamin D supplementation.”2 Given the short time between articles, why are the conclusions so different? Is this really a major new development, providing the long sought reliable evidence of benefits of vitamin D on a non-skeletal outcome in the general population? Or is it yet another hypothesis about vitamin D supplementation that needs testing in adequately powered randomised controlled trials?
Eight trial level meta-analyses have examined this topic since 2012, with conflicting findings: three reported benefits and five no consistent …