Is Vitamin D Bad for Bones?Posted on May 31st 2010 11:00AM by Jonny Bowden
Well, if my media-reading radar are working properly, any moment we're going to see headlines and soundbites proclaiming that vitamin D causes fractures. Yup, you read that right. Causes, not prevents.
So in anticipation of all the emails I'm sure to get questioning why I advocated for "dangerous" vitamin D supplements, I thought I'd be a little proactive and answer them now.
Is it true that vitamin D causes fractures?
Well, no. Vitamin D is the new superstar of nutrients, having been found in recent years to be associated with lower rates of cancer, increased physical performance and strength in older adults, improved mood and stronger bones. People with low levels of vitamin D -- which includes virtually 80 percent of the US population -- have greater risk of death from all causes. Vitamin D levels even predict how well you'll do on a weight loss program-folks with low levels do less well losing weight than those with optimal levels. (About the only thing vitamin D hasn't been shown to do is fix the economy!)
Docs also realized some time ago that the elderly were particularly vulnerable to not getting enough vitamin D. Among the older population, compliance with pill-taking schedules is- well, less than terrific. So researchers wanted to see if there might be a better way for this at-risk population (over 70) to get their vitamin D without having to take a daily pill or two.
Kerrie M. Sanders of the University of Melbourne, Geelong, Australia and colleagues conducted a study to examine whether high-dose cholecalciferol (vitamin D) given orally once a year to older women would reduce falls and fractures.
The dose they injected? Five hundred thousand IUs.
Think about that for a second. That's a half a million IUs of vitamin D -- to put it in context, I usually recommend between 2,000 IUs and 6,000 IUs on a daily basis.
And yes, for some reason not fully understood, the women getting this massive injection had slightly more falls and fractures than the control group (about 15 percent more).
But this dosing (and the delivery system of injection) bears absolutely no resemblance to the way people normally take vitamin D supplements. And in fact, other studies using 300,000 IUs intramuscularly injected four times a year had the opposite findings -- fractures were reduced.
So clearly there's something about the massive dose or scheduling (500,000 one time a year versus 300,000 IUs four times a year) that accounts for at least some of this finding. The point is it has absolutely no bearing or relevance to people like you and me taking daily oral doses of this incredibly important, essential vitamin that protects bones, improves mood, increases strength, protects against diseases, helps with weight loss and may even help protect against death from any cause.
Also remember that your body naturally produced Vitamin D, and can get enough of a daily dose in just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure.
Jonny Bowden, author, nutritionist and weight loss coach cuts through all the misconceptions about diet and fitness to help you transform your body, your health and your life. You can visit his Web site to learn more.