Most people consider Vitamin D as a vital element to preserving bone and staving off Osteoporosis but rarely think how valuable it is once the illness has been diagnosed.
However, the fact is that Vitamin D will still be important in helping your body cope with Osteoporosis even after a diagnosis has been made. It can be emphasized that anything and everything that will support your bones is important whether your bones are still healthy or whether you have already developed Osteoporosis and are dealing with it at any developmental stage. Vitamin D remains a powerful ally within the range of Osteoporosis support you can call upon.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb Calcium and Phosphorus from food, thus, it remains a vital nutrient whether you have Osteoporosis or not. While it is important to build stronger bones before any onset of Osteoporosis, it is still very important to continue this practice even if diagnosed with Osteoporosis.
Here’s why you should continue with Vitamin D
- Vitamin D works to help the bones absorb Calcium and Calcium is the bone-building nutrient, vital to assisting in thinning bones avoiding further damage.
- Vitamin D also helps the body absorb Phosphorus, another key mineral for bone health.
- Your muscles need it to maintain energy for movement, not to mention the fact that your nerves need it to carry messages throughout your body.
- A good mix of Calcium and Vitamin D has shown to build stronger bones after menopause – a particularly vulnerable time for women with regard to the development of this silent disease. Because Osteoporosis causes loss of bone – when the bone becomes less dense and liable to breakage – anything that will help the bones maintain some strength or density is going to help the condition and possibly assist with preventing further progression.
- Vitamin D has been shown to slow down bone loss. While it may not prevent further bone loss, it can certainly work to slow the process and provide an individual with stronger bones for longer.
- Vitamin D cannot cure your Osteoporosis or restore bone density but it can help you to manage your Osteoporosis more effectively.
Warming the Bones
While the days of lying in a bikini on a sun-drenched beach checking out the talent may be over by the time you are unfairly afflicted with bone loss, you should still get out there in that big yellow glow whenever you can.
Your best friend for Vitamin D is still direct sunlight on your skin – not with suntan lotion (any SPF above 8 completely blocks Vitamin D synthesis on the skin) and through a window. Real sunlight on exposed skin is still your best absorption method. Your body makes the nutrient when the sun shines directly on your skin. Just 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight a couple of times a week (between 11:00 and 15:00) usually gives you enough Vitamin D. However, beware of overdoing it. If you plan to be longer the sun, it’s wise to apply suntan lotion or clothing that covers you up.
Other ways to Supplement with Vitamin D
If sunlight is a problem on a regular basis, then there are two other useful methods you can follow: taking supplements and adjusting your diet.
The amount needed could well depend on your age and the factors that determine your tendency to Osteoporosis and the amounts vary according to experts:
The general rule of thumb is 600 IU (international units) a day for people ages 1 to 70. This amount includes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
This amount is upped to 800 IU a day for anyone over 70.
Some experts think that these recommendations are too low, especially for people at greater risk of developing Osteoporosis: women past menopause, smokers, genetic factors, those who avoid the sun and don’t get enough exercise. However, it is a balancing act because too much Vitamin D, on the other hand, can be harmful. Children aged 1 to 8 shouldn’t get more than 2,500-3,000 IU per day, and doses exceeding 4,000 IU a day are not recommended for people aged 9 and older.
It’s always best to ask your doctor how much Vitamin D is best for you.
There are a few foods that contain Vitamin D but you’ll mostly find it in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Beef liver, cheese and egg yolks are also good. Some foods are now fortified with vitamins, including Vitamin D:
- breakfast cereals
- orange juice
- yoghurt and
- soy drinks.
The good characteristic about foods with Vitamin D is that they keep you healthy in general, while also working on those important bones.
NOFSA (National Osteoporosis Foundation South Africa)
NOFSA is the only non-profit, voluntary health organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong bone health. We focus on reducing the widespread prevalence of osteoporosis while working to find a cure for the disease, and by supporting research and developing programmes of education and advocacy.
Find out more about our work by visiting www.osteoporosis.org.za