Do You Know The One Vitamin You Need For Osteoporosis?

Prevent OsteoporosisThese days it’s hard to keep up with all the information about vitamins.  The Mayo Clinic recently conducted a study, which is considered the latest information and, surprisingly, the one vitamin that is needed to prevent osteoporosis is the key supplement you should take every day.

Our father’s and their father’s knew that malnutrition could cause some diseases and they occasionally discovered that eating certain foods brought cures.  It wasn’t until the early 20th century that nutritionalists and scientists began separating and actually putting names to the various nutrients in foods that became known as vitamins.

In the next hundred years, it was learned that people with a high dietary intake of beta carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, had lower risks of certain cancers and heart disease.  We learned that vitamin E appeared to protect against heart disease and that vitamin D was critical to prevent osteoporosis (or bone softening) in adults  and rickets in children.

The perennial question is should we just load up on all these vitamins in supplement form?  The evidence from the recent Mayo study says we’ve learned that some vitamin supplements don’t help at all and may even be harmful.  The study revealed that smokers and former smokers who took beta carotene supplements actually had higher risks for lung cancer.  Surprisingly, for vitamin E, the time-tested randomized trials that are the standard for scientific evidence also show little benefit from vitamin E supplements.  In fact, you can get all the beta carotene and vitamin E you need, plus other benefits, by just eating carrots, other vegetables, and fruits.  Nuts, fish, and whole grains are also good food sources for vitamin E.

However, for vitamin D (which is also called the sunshine vitamin because your body naturally manufactures it through sunlight) the news regarding supplements is better.  Vitamin D not only supports calcium absorption to prevent osteoporosis (soft or fractured-prone bones) but has been found helpful in preventing other conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardio vascular disease, certain cancers, muscle and joint pain, and perhaps even multiple sclerosis.  It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the usual sources.  Milk and some other foods are fortified with vitamin D but too much sun raises the risk of skin cancer and causes premature skin aging and wrinkling.

Here’s the key:

  • A supplement in the case of vitamin D (perhaps as much as 1,000 international units per day) is probably a good idea for most people but the strong recommendation for women as they age.
  • To go with the vitamin D, 1,000 mg of calcium is also recommended.  For women older than 50, up to 1,200 mg of calcium is suggested.  These amounts can be achieved through a combination of food and supplements.

What’s the bottom line?  For people who are going to take a supplement to prevent osteoporosis, a multivitamin is the best choice, however, be sure you take at least 1,000 mg of vitamin D daily.

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