Disease Proof

Vitamin D and Osteoporosis

From the September 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

It is estimated that over 25 million adults in the United States have, or are at risk of developing, osteoporosis. Adequate storage levels of vitamin D help keep bones strong and help prevent osteoporosis in older adults. Vitamin D deficiency results in diminished calcium absorption, and has been linked to a higher incidence of osteoporosis-related bone fractures seen in post menopausal women and older Americans.

In a review of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures, 50 percent were found to have vitamin D deficiency.1 Daily supplementation with 20g (800 IU) of vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures in elderly populations with low blood levels of vitamin D.2 The Decalyos II study examined the effect of combined calcium and vitamin D supplementation in a group of elderly women who were able to walk indoors with a cane or walker.

The women were studied for two years, and results showed that supplementation significantly reduced the risk of hip fractures, and that vitamin D was more effective than calcium.3 Clearly, any woman being counseled or treated for osteoporosis should have her vitamin D status checked with a blood test and appropriately supplemented to assure a normal level.

For more on vitamin D, check out these previous posts:
1. LeBoff MS, Kohlmeier L, Hurwitz S, Franklin J, Wright J, Glowacki J. Occult vitamin D deficiency in postmenopausal US women with acute hip fracture. J Am Med Assoc 1999;251:1505-11.

2. Reid IR. Therapy of osteoporosis: Calcium, vitamin D, and exercise. Am J Med Sci 1996;312:278-86.

3. Chapuy MC, Pamphile R, Paris E, Kempf C, Schlichting M, Arnaud S, Garnere P, Meunier PJ. Combined calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation in elderly women: confirmation of reversal of secondary hyperparathyroidism and hip fracture risk: the Decalyos II study. Osteoporosis Int 2002;13:257-64.
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Edward Hutchinson - March 14, 2007 4:50 AM

UK readers should be aware that as we are further North than USA our vitamin d status (because there is a longer period in the Winter with no UVB from sunlight) is generally worse.
This research http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/85/3/860 shows that almost 9 out of 10 white folks here have low status in the Winter and 6 out of 10 remain insufficient throughout the year. The situation for those with brown or black skins in the UK will be worse as the darker the skin colour the longer exposure is needed to generate the same amount of vitamin D.
I carelessly misread the above article first time though, so if anyone else erroneously thinks D2 is being recommended may I remind them of the Case against Ergocalciferol D2 as a vitamin supplement.

Russell Eaton - March 14, 2007 6:24 AM

Taking supplements formulated with both calcium and vitamin D is a sure way to increase the risk of osteoporosis. On the whole, calcium supplements should always be avoided, whether taken on their own or combined with vitamin D. However vitamin D supplementation is important for good health, but never take vitamin D combined with calcium.

Russell Eaton
Author of 'The Milk Imperative'

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