August 21, 2018
Bone health and calcium go hand in hand. Chances are you know you need a certain amount of calcium to maintain healthy bones. But what you may not realize is just how important vitamin D is when it comes to protecting your bones, especially for people with osteoporosis or osteopenia, the precursor to the bone-thinning disease.
A recent study finds that more than 75% of post-menopausal American women suffer from vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium from food, and plays a role both in forming and maintaining strong bones, and promoting a healthy immune system and muscles. Studies suggest that people who get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diets can slow bone mineral loss, helping to prevent osteoporosis and reducing your risk for bone fractures.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
According to the Institute of Medicine the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is:
- 600 International Units (IU) daily for people 1-70 years of age
- 800 IU daily for people 71 years and older
Maintaining Sufficient Vitamin D
You get vitamin D from three sources—the sun, food, and supplements.
Sun: Spending 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sunlight, casually exposing your face, hands, and arms, will get you the vitamin D you need as the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays make vitamin D in your skin.
Food: You can also obtain vitamin D from foods, including fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel; egg yolk; and liver. Some foods like milk and cereals may be fortified with vitamin D. Check the labels.
Supplements: If you are not getting adequate amounts of vitamin D from nature (sun or food), your doctor may recommend supplements. If you have osteoporosis or have had gastric bypass surgery, your doctor may recommend a regimen that includes greater amounts of vitamin D.
While it’s possible to get too much vitamin D, vitamin D toxicity is rare. A simple blood test can measure the amount of vitamin D in your body. Based on the results, you and your doctor can discuss appropriate adjustments to put you on the road to maintaining healthy bones.