The Importance of Vitamin D for Good Bone Health
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is the supplement that regulates both phosphorus and calcium in our bodies. Without adequate vitamin D, our bodies will not properly utilize the calcium we take to make our bones stronger. Vitamin D is the prohormone that our bodies use to transport calcium from the intestines through the blood to the bones, heart, brain, lungs, and other organs that require this important nutrient.
Sources of vitamin D:
Vitamin D² (ergocalciferol) comes from plants and fungus, fortified foods and supplements. Vitamin D³ (cholecalciferol) is the sunshine vitamin; our bodies synthesize D³ in the skin after it is exposed to sunlight. To get adequate D³ you need to expose your skin, for 10-15 minutes, without sunscreen, several times a week. Some fatty fish, like cat fish, tuna and salmon contain D because they eat algae which synthesize D³ from sunlight. Fish liver oils and eggs also provide vitamin D.
If you have current issues with skin cancer or other skin disorders, confirm this recommendation with your oncologist or primary care physician, because it may alter how you should obtain your vitamin D.
Which form of D is the best?
This theory has been debated by many important health organizations, and the results are still varied. The majority of experts believe that vitamin D³ is better than D². Discuss the differing forms of vitamin D with your Doctor, to make your informed decision.
Climate and vitamin D:
If you live in an area of the world where sunshine is infrequent, then you’ll have to supplement with vitamin D. As we age vitamin D synthesis in the skin becomes more difficult, so relying on the sun for all of your D may not be an option.
How much D should you take?
If you are over the age of 50, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends taking 800-1,000 IU’s of D³ daily. These recommendations presume you have normal levels or slightly below normal scores, so be sure to have your vitamin D levels checked frequently, to determine the actual amount that is necessary for you.
Testing for vitamin D:
The test for vitamin D is a very simple blood test and most insurance companies cover it. This test has two names: 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25 (OH) D. If you have the test and are normal, deficient, or extremely deficient, then your Doctor should discuss options for supplementation.
If you are extremely low in D, then your Doctor may decide to put you on a prescribed therapeutic dose that is much higher than 1,000 IU’s a day, but you don’t have to worry about getting too much D, because your Doctor will be checking your D levels on a regular basis so he or she can adjust the dose for you.
With a combined use of good bone building supplements, healthy diet, weight bearing exercises, reduction or elimination of negative life style habits; hopefully we can change the statistics on the great numbers of people who contract osteoporosis, a treatable but life threatening and disabling condition.