—by Jeff Jurmain, MA
It’s not as if it needs any introduction, since osteoporosis is one of the most pervasive health conditions in the U.S., as well as the world. Weakened bones due to mineral loss lead the way to greatly reduced bone strength and possible bone fractures. While postmenopausal women are at highest risk, osteoporosis is a condition that every adult should begin seriously paying attention to in their 40s.
A major body north of the border, Osteoporosis Canada, has released updated guidelines about one vital nutrient needed to shield your bones from deterioration. While calcium and magnesium are heavy hitters in osteoporosis prevention, the new guidelines focus on vitamin D. They are published in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.”
Vitamin D, alongside calcium, is essential to preventing osteoporosis. This invaluable vitamin could reduce other health risks, such as diabetes and immune system disorders. While exposure to sunlight provides vitamin D, those who live in northern latitudes are at risk of seasonal vitamin D deficiency. This is because winter sunlight in northern latitudes above 35º does not contain enough ultraviolet B for vitamin D production. All adults would do well to use supplements to obtain adequate vitamin D levels, because what you might get from food just isn’t enough.
In Canada, the new guidelines recommend daily supplements of 400 to 1,000 IU (“international units,” a unit of measurement) for adults under age 50 who do not have osteoporosis or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption. For those over 50, supplements of between 800 and 2000 IU are recommended. For people who need added supplements to reach optimal vitamin D levels, they can safely go up to 2,000 IU without medical supervision.
The lead researcher, from the University of Calgary, unilaterally recommends that a daily supplement of 25 mg (800 IU) should now be the minimum dose for adults with osteoporosis. Adults can safely take daily vitamin D supplements up to the level of 2,000 IU (also written sometimes as 50 micrograms), but you should not take more than that without a doctor’s input.
In matters of the bone, it isn’t all about calcium. Vitamin D, which has been extensively studied now for several decades, is steadily becoming one of the most integral disease-fighting nutrients available.