Do vitamin D supplements help protect my bones?

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David Slovik, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Vitamin D has long been recognized as vital to bone health because the body needs it to absorb calcium. Vitamin D allows calcium to travel out of the intestines and into the bloodstream. A study found that vitamin D supplementation increased calcium absorption by 65%.
 
Other studies uncovered a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and low bone density -- and conversely higher bone density among women taking vitamin D supplements. For example, a review of 167 studies, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, netted consistent evidence that daily doses of vitamin D and calcium increased bone density in the spine, hip, and body as a whole.
 
There is also some evidence that vitamin D supplementation makes fractures less likely. A meta-analysis found that vitamin D supplements may reduce the risk for spine fractures by 37%. A meta-analysis published in The Journal of the American Medical Association also found that vitamin D supplements between 700 and 800 IU per day appear to reduce the risk for hip and other nonvertebral fractures in people over age 60.
 
Why the decrease in fractures? The Surgeon General's report on osteoporosis speculated that vitamin D may actually reduce a person's risk of falling by activating receptors on muscles that play a role in increasing muscle strength and stability.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.