Photo: Andrew Brookes / Getty

Vitamin D and calcium supplements do not appear to protect against bone breaks or hip fractures in adults over the age of 50, according to a new study reported on by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Fractures related to osteoporosis can have social and economic impacts that, as the world's population ages, are expected to increase. Researchers have been examining the association between supplements and fracture risk amid conflicting studies of the issue.

How it was done, per the Post: Researchers in China randomly analyzed 33 clinical trials involving more than 50,000 adults over the age of 50 who live in the general community. It didn't include those in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities.

The limitations: Daniel Fabricant, president of the Natural Products Association, which represents manufacturers and retailers that make dietary supplements, told the Post the study's conclusion was "too broad of a brush." He claimed "there is a lot missing" because the study focuses on the healthiest segment of the population: "people with prior breaks or family incidence of osteoporosis may still need vitamin D."

The Post also noted that some of the trials included in the analysis did not test baseline vitamin D blood concentration for all participants. The study also didn't look into the benefits or risks of vitamin D supplements on other conditions. However, previous studies have shown they can lower risks of diabetes and certain cancers.

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