Making Sense of the Vitamin D Recommendations

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide
  • Are you confused about the recent vitamin D recommendations?  If you’ve been following the health news, you have learned that vitamin D does not prevent osteoporosis, according to Dr. Ian Reid.

     

    Professor Ian Reid from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and study leader explains: “Taking vitamin D supplements does not improve bone mineral density, a study involving more than 4,000 healthy adults published in The Lancet has found.”


    Dr. Clifford Rosen tells us that if you have normal bone density, with an adequate intake of calcium, there is no need for vitamin D.  This is what troubles me.  Those of us, who frequent this web site have osteoporosis, so we don’t have normal bone mineral density.  Also, there are many of us dealing with deficiencies in vitamin D.  If this sounds like your situation, then do you need to take vitamin D?  Some will need to ask their physicians, but I know that I do because I have bone loss and was vitamin D deficient for a long time.  If you are very healthy and are not dealing with bone loss, then you may not need the amount of vitamin D that many others take to raise their levels and protect their bones from fracture.

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    Dr. Clifford Rosen, from the Maine Medical Research Institute, explains further on the Lancet article, "Supplementation to prevent osteoporosis in healthy adults is not warranted. However, maintenance of vitamin D stores in the elderly combined with sufficient dietary calcium intake (800-1200 mg per day) remains an effective approach for prevention of hip fractures."

     

    I’m not elderly, but I do need vitamin D to prevent hip and spine fractures because I have low bone mass.  Many others my age and younger are in the same situation, so if they want to protect their bones from further mineralization, then they need to take vitamin D.  Usually the amount that you take is based on your D score, determined by a 25 (OH) D blood test, so you’ll know how much you’ll need to take.  Unfortunately, you can’t get enough D from your diet, so supplementing is necessary.


    Some people can get D3 from the sun, by exposing your skin to UV-B light.  If you live in countries where sunshine is limited you’ll have to rely on supplements.


    I have the test for vitamin D twice a year, but I’m in the normal range now and don’t need to take a dose of D that will raise my levels.  I need to maintain my score, so my daily requirement reflects that, which is why it’s so important to know your 25 (OH) D level.


    For those who’d like to use diet to increase your score you can eat fatty fish, beef liver, cereals, fortified foods and dairy products.


    The National Osteoporosis Foundation commented on this study saying, “Vitamin D is essential in helping our bones ‘pull’ or absorb calcium and phosphorus into the bone,” said Robert Recker, M.D., president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “With 52 million Americans over the age of 50 affected by low bone mass and osteoporosis, maintaining optimal vitamin D levels combined with sufficient calcium intake is critical for this age group.”

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    Vitamin D requirements for healthy individuals and those with bone loss:

    • 800 - 1,000 International Units a day (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2013)

    We can’t apply a one-size-fits-all type of vitamin supplementation to our lives and hope to be healthy and protected from fracture.  You’ll have to look at your individual needs to determine if any of these recommendations apply to you and your particular health situation.   From this recommendation, those with bone loss will need to take vitamin D and those who are healthy and don’t have osteoporosis or osteopenia may limit the amount of vitamin D they take.

     

    Sources:

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    Vitamin D Supplements Do Not Prevent Osteoporosis, Weber, B; Medical News Today, 23 October 2013 http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/267282.php

     

    NOF Responds to Meta-Analysis Review of Vitamin D Supplements and Prevention of Osteoporosis, 12 October 2013 http://nof.org/news/1603

     

Published On: December 31, 2013