The focus on vitamin D continues, as several recent studies have shed new light on our understanding of this increasingly popular and scientifically heralded supplement.
One of the most persistent and important messages about vitamin D is that it strengthens the skeletal system and lowers the risk of bone fractures, especially as you age. Research published in the March 23rd Archives of Internal Medicine adds further evidence to this claim, and focuses on the appropriate dosage amounts as a crucial factor for the efficiency of vitamin D supplementation. Simply, if you are not taking enough, you may not receive the protection possible with the correct amount.
It was found that oral vitamin D supplementation of at least 400 international units (IU) per day was linked with a lower risk of bone fractures in older adults. 400 IU per day is now widely seen as a minimium recommended amount of vitamin D, and just late last year the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled their recommended dosage for youth, bring younger age group recommendations up to 400 IU, while others have recommended even greater increases in daily vitamin D dosage for certain at-risk groups.
Heike Bischoff-Ferrari of the University of Zurich, lead author of the recent meta-analysis appearing in Archives of Internal Medicine, writes:
“The greater fracture reduction with a higher received dose or higher achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels for both any non-vertebral fractures and hip fractures suggests that higher doses of vitamin D should be explored in future research to optimize anti-fracture efficacy. [...] Also, it is possible that greater benefits may be achieved with earlier initiation of vitamin D supplementation and longer duration of use. Our results do not support use of low-dose vitamin D with or without calcium in the prevention of fractures among older individuals.”
After the results of this study with over 40,000 participants, it is believed that individuals receiving 400 IU of vitamin D will reduce hip fractures by 18% and non-spinal (vertebral) fractures by 20%.
In the same issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado researchers have found a disturbing trend: the average US blood levels of vitamin D have been on the decline for the past decade. Now, more than ever before, low levels of vitamin D appear to be linked with a host of health issues, cardiovascular disease and cancer among them. New findings have linked low levels of vitamin D to such disparate issues as elevated narcotic use by those in chronic pain and fat-related weight gain in teenagers. A whole spectrum of risk-problems for teens have been associated with low vitamin D levels of late, and this landslide of scientific evidence shows no sign of slowing.
Our advice: test to find out your vitamin D levels, and be sure to receive the recommended amount of vitamin D each and every day.
DSIB: Vitamin D
Archives of Internal Medicine: Prevention of Nonvertebral Fractures With Oral Vitamin D and Dose Dependency
WebMD: Vitamin D Pills Cut Bone Fracture Risk
Archives of Internal Medicine: Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004
Increasing Number Of Americans Have Insufficient Levels Of Vitamin D