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Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D to Prevent Osteoporosis?

woman standing outside in the sun

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.

author name

Carrie E. Galanis, PA-C

Carrie E. Galanis, PA-C, is a physician assistant with LG Health Physicians Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Education: Bachelor of Science, St. Francis University; Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, St. Francis University.

Call: 717-299-1301

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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