A premier nutrient in natural health circles, vitamin D is integral to the health of your bones. Vitamin-D deficiency results in loss of minerals from bone — specifically the loss of calcium from the skeleton and teeth. Severe mineral loss in children is known as rickets and in adults as “osteomalacia.” This means bone pain, muscle weakness and pain. Also, lack of vitamin D is an important contributory factor in osteoporosis. In a large study of 2,600 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, 64% had low levels of vitamin D. Now let’s see if supplementing can make a difference.
A recent meta-analysis summarized the effect of vitamin D on bone health. These researchers identified 17 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that examined the effects of vitamin D3 supplements (300 to 2,000 IU a day) on bone mineral density (BMD) in older men and postmenopausal women. They found that:
— Doses of 300 IU to 400 IU alone did not have any significant effect on BMD; and
— Doses of 700 IU or more plus 500 to 1,200 mg of calcium a day were successful in preventing bone loss compared to placebo.
How about the effects of vitamin D supplements on fractures in postmenopausal women and older men? The key findings from 13 randomized studies with over 58,000 patients are:
— Doses of 400 IU to 800 IU a day without calcium failed to reduce the fracture risk
— Doses of 700 IU to 800 IU did reduce the risk of non-vertebral fractures and hip fractures in older patients living in institutionalized settings
The same group of researchers found 14 randomized clinical trials on the effect of vitamin D on the risk of falls in older men and postmenopausal women. The overall conclusion is that vitamin D has a small beneficial effect in reducing falls. Yet, a significant reduction of falls from vitamin D supplements was found when these researchers combined these 14 trials with six trials that specifically assessed falls using oral vitamin D3 between 700 IU and 800 IU or 1,000 IU vitamin D2 plus calcium (500 mg to 1,200 mg) daily. Vitamin D and calcium, keeping your bones strong.