AUCKLAND - Vitamin D supplements do not improve bone mineral density, a recent study showed.

Vitamin D has long been considered as a silver bullet for keeping bones strong by helping calcium absorption, and associated with a lower risk of conditions like osteoporosis and hypertension.

But the results of the study, published on Thursday in The Lancet (Diabetes & Endocrinology), a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, showed "little justification" for the vitamin's effect on strengthening bone health. The study was led by Dr. Mark J. Bolland, associate professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Vitamin D supplementation does not prevent fractures or falls, or have clinically meaningful effects on bone mineral density, according to the research, which analyzed data from 81 randomized controlled trials - involving 53,537 people - that studied the efficacy of over-the-counter supplements.

There are no differences between the effects of higher and lower doses of vitamin D, and there is little justification to use vitamin D supplements to maintain or improve musculoskeletal health, the study showed, advising health professionals to stop recommending the supplements to most patients.

But critics of the study said that only 6 percent of the trials were done in populations with vitamin D deficiency, who would stand to benefit most from supplementation, according to a CNN report.

"We know from meta-analysis that have managed to obtain individual participant data that the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation tend to be most marked in people who have the lowest vitamin D levels to start with," Adrian Martineau, clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, was quoted as saying by the CNN on Friday.

Others point to the small number of participants and limited treatment spans.

The pros and cons of vitamin D supplements have long been debated, but it is generally suggested to get vitamin D from the sun and food than from supplements.