With the spotlight constantly on calcium, vitamin D–an equally important nutrient–often gets forgotten even though it holds a lot of weight in the maintenance of our good health. Unfortunately, in our society, the focus has been firmly set upon calcium, which is found in milk and other places, in keeping our bones strong and preventing osteoporosis. But, as the results of a surprising new study have indicated, we are missing the boat on vitamin D. And it deserves some major mention, in fact, almost as much as calcium, because without it your body won’t even absorb calcium! People can chug back all the milk they want, but if they have low levels of vitamin D that calcium isn’t going anywhere.
The study in question involved 548 patients who were over the age of 60 and all of whom are Scottish. (Makes sense, considering it took place in Glasgow.) The patients visited a hospital over the course of the last four years for observation. Researchers were astounded to find out that 98% of the patients had lower than normal vitamin D levels. The patients came to the hospital after experiencing a hip fracture. The 98% figure prompted the researchers to call vitamin D deficiency “nearly universal.” The most harmful news was that 25% of the patients had levels that were so drastically low they were labeled “unrecordable.”
Now, something is seriously wrong here. It doesn’t take a genius to see that vitamin D clearly has a strong link to bone-breaking hip fractures. Researchers say that all doctors should encourage patients who have osteoporosis to take vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is generated in the skin when a person is exposed to sunlight. The liver and kidneys then turn this into the useable vitamin. It’s found in some foods, but the list is minimal, including fatty fish, liver, eggs, enriched milk, and fortified cereal or bread. So basically, if you don’t get a lot of sun, you’re likely at risk of being deficient in vitamin D.
We all need vitamin D and calcium to stave off the osteoporosis and bone fractures that cripple so many people in our society. People over 50 need to take in appropriate amounts of vitamin D each day. Supplements are the most reliable way to do this. The maximum safe dose is set at 2,000 IU. These are “international units.” As for the recommended daily intake, it’s set at 200 IU (5µg) for those 50 and younger. That figure increases to 400 IU (10 µg) for those 51 to 70 years of age. And it rises to 600 IU (15 µg) if you are 71 or older, signifying the added importance of vitamin D as you age. If in doubt, follow the directions on the label of your supplement. Also note that many calcium supplements include vitamin D.
Signs you might be vitamin D deficient include:
–Muscle cramps –Uncontrollable muscle twitches –Weak muscles –Muscle aches –Muscle spasms –Bone pain anywhere in body –Easy fracturing –Bowing legs –Pelvic flattening