Beyond Calcium Vitamin D Supplements May Do More Harm Than Good For Bones
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LOS ANGELES When it comes to optimal bone health and fracture prevention, there is scant evidence for recommending supplementation with vitamins and minerals other than calcium and vitamin D, according to a speaker at the AACE Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress.
Daniel L. Hurley
Despite a lack of empirical evidence that suggests any benefits, consumer surveys show that many people report taking various over-the-counter supplements for bone health, from phosphorus and magnesium to vitamins A, K or C, Daniel L. Hurley, MD, FACE, professor in the division of endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said during a presentation.
For all of these vitamins and minerals and trace elements and their use in skeletal health, the first motto is do no harm, Hurley said. There is little data to recommend supplementation for any of these, except for calcium and vitamin D.
The second motto, Hurley said, is to try and do good. Calcium and vitamin D, he noted, are safe and effective to help prevent bone loss and fracture.
They should never be used alone in the treatment of bone loss and prevention of osteoporosis, because they are ineffective in that regard, Hurley said. But they are very helpful together, especially for those patients not taking calcium and likely deficient in vitamin D.
What Is The Best Supplement For Bone Health
Aside from the vitamins and minerals listed above, there are other nutrients that also play a role in bone health. For example, magnesium, zinc, and collagen are all important for optimal bone health. In fact, every vitamin and mineral plays a role in overall health and optimal bone health.
However, when looking for the best supplement for bone health, it is wise to focus on the vitamins and minerals listed above.
Here are the best supplements for bone health:
Supplements: Part Of An Integrated Bone Health Plan
When used wisely, supplements can play a role in boosting bone and joint health. But we should combine them with a broader approach, including:
- A healthy diet with lots of vegetables and leafy greens.
- Fitness program including both cardio and strength training.
- Regular wellness checks with your primary care provider.
- Physical therapy for an injury or chronic conditions.
If youre getting orthopaedic care for an injury, arthritis, or a chronic condition, supplements may help healing. But your orthopaedist needs to know about everything youre taking to avoid dangerous interactions. And finally, over-the-counter supplements should not replace professional healthcare. If your joints hurt, see your orthopaedist. A range of approaches are available, including surgery and physical therapy. In many cases, physical therapy can be the most beneficial approach to tackling bone or joint pain. At Countryside Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy, our decades of experience and a top-notch team of physicians and physical therapists give us the bandwidth to find solid, medically sound solutions for joint pain. Sometimes supplements can give bone health a boost. But make sure youre combining them with the best 21st Century healthcare for real results.
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What Are The Risks Of Taking Vitamin D
At normal doses, vitamin D seems to have few side effects. But if you take any medications, be careful — it can interact with many medicines, such as drugs for high blood pressure and heart problems. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to take vitamin D supplements.
Too much vitamin D can cause loss of appetite, the need to pee a lot, nausea, and weight loss. High doses of vitamin D can also make you disoriented and lead to bone pain and kidney stones.
Maintaining A Healthy Weight
People should avoid rapid weight loss and cycling between gaining and losing weight. As a person loses weight they can lose bone density, but the density is not restored when a person gains back the weight. This reduction in density can lead to weaker bones.
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Eating Fruits And Vegetables Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods that are good for promoting bone health and increasing bone density.
A study involving 100 postmenopausal women found that eating between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily improved bone health. Researchers also noted that women over 50 benefit from better cardiovascular health and stronger bones when consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits.
Another study found that an osteoporosis diet consisting of citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, and parsley helped conserve bone calcium and prevent bone mass loss.
Osteoporosis Canada Recommends Routine Vitamin D Supplementation For Canadian Adults Year
Healthy adults between 19-50 years of age, including pregnant or breast feeding women, require 400 1,000 IU daily. Those over 50 or those younger adults at high risk should receive 800 2,000 IU daily.
The best supplement to purchase is vitamin D3 . While most multivitamins or calcium supplements contain some vitamin D, the amounts can vary, so its important to read the label carefully to ensure you are getting the amounts you need. If you arent sure about the amounts in the supplements you are taking, please check with your pharmacist.
Adding vitamin D enhanced foods to your diet is another great way to increase intake of vitamin D. In Canada, vitamin D fortification is mandated for margarine, infant formula, formulated liquid diets, cows milk and substitutes, egg products, foods for use on a very low energy diet, meal replacements and nutritional supplements. Fortification is voluntary for butter substitutes, condensed milk, goats milk and goats milk powder.
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A Study Shows That For Many People Less Is More When It Comes To Vitamin D
There’s no question that vitamin D can help build strong bones. But there may be a sweet spot when it comes to how much.
A study published in the Aug. 27 issue of JAMA found that, compared with people who took moderate amounts of vitamin D, adults who took large amounts daily not only didn’t see additional gains in bone density, but in some cases ended up worse off.
“People often assume that if some is good, more is better,” says Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School. “This is generally not the case, and certainly is not true of vitamin D. While there is no question that vitamin D and calcium are essential to bone health, it appears that very high doses of vitamin D don’t provide further benefits for bone health and may actually have a harmful effect.”
What Assists The Absorption Of Calcium
Vitamin D is the most significant nutrient for the proper absorption of calcium. Vitamin D and calcium work together to slow down or even reverse osteoporosis. Vitamin D is essential in helping the body absorb and use calcium in fact, the body cannot absorb calcium at all without some vitamin D.
Vitamin D comes from two sources. It is made in the skin through direct exposure to sunlight, and it comes from the diet. The body’s ability to produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight and to absorb calcium and vitamin D decreases with age. Getting enough vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and also helps the kidneys break down and incorporate calcium that would otherwise be excreted. Vitamin D is found in eggs, butter, fatty fish, liver, and fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, and cereal. Elderly individuals who are not exposed to sunlight and may not eat a variety of food containing vitamin D may need vitamin D supplements to maintain adequate levels to help calcium absorption.
Because the body has a hard time absorbing a large amount of calcium at once, spreading out the intake of calcium is recommended. Taking in about 500 mg or less of calcium several times throughout the day is best.
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Bone Supplements For Osteopenia Support
Your bones are living tissue and like other living tissues, they function best when nourished and supported. If you have been told you have osteopenia, all thats being relayed to you is that your bones are less dense than that of the average person in their twenties. Thats not really too much of a surprise, is it? Osteopenia is not a true diagnosis or a reason on its own to prescribe a bone medication.
However, osteopenia can be your wake up call to start making sure your bones have everything you need. A good place to start is with my Better Bones Basics: a daily vitamin and mineral supplement for bone health. You want to be getting enough of prime bone-building vitamins and minerals to make sure your reserves are topped off and your bones are nourished.
Calcium And Osteoporosis Management
Calcium is the building block for many bodily functions, including strengthening your bones. Every day, our body uses calcium for the skin nails and hair, and we lose more through sweat and urine. If your body is not getting enough calcium, or if it is unable to absorb calcium, your bones will suffer the consequences. This is because your body stores nearly all its calcium in your teeth and bones and will take the calcium from your bones if it is deficient in other areas. Calcium deficient bones become weak and are unable to grow. Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between the formation of new bone and the re-absorption of old bone. Though food is the absolute best source of calcium, you may not be getting enough through your diet alone.
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Vitamin D: Calciums Trusted Companion
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone health think of it as the Gayle to calciums Oprah. Emerging science has shown that vitamin D allows calcium to be sufficiently absorbed in the gut and used by the body.
In addition to supporting the absorption of calcium, vitamin D also aids in bone growth and remodeling.
A 2010 study showed that the combination of vitamin D and calcium did effectively support bone health.
Vitamin D does not occur naturally in many foods. The best source of vitamin D is through direct sun exposure during the brightest part of the day. Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to reside in a region where this is possible year round. For this reason, supplementation is often recommended. The recommended dose range for ages 9 through 70 is between 600 and 4,000 IU per day.
Dr. Gladd adds: Since there are so many variables involved in a persons ability to make and use vitamin D, it is best to have your blood levels measured seasonally to make sure you are in the ranges that are optimal for bone and overall health 365 days a year. Ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level regularly, or most states now allow you to order your own blood testing to monitor this, aiming for a normal level.
Ready to start your personalized routine?
Vitamin K2 Is Necessary For Strong Bones
Getting enough vitamin K2 in your diet is another way to increase your bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.
The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism reports that vitamin K2 helps to improve bone health. Some studies have shown that taking osteoporosis supplements that include calcium and vitamin K2 helps to maintain bone density.
Vitamin K2 can also help increase bone density after 60. Some studies have found that a combination of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K2 helps to make bones stronger in older adults.
Good foods to eat to ensure you get calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K include green leafy vegetables and dairy products.
One good source of vitamin K is eggs. Find out why eating an egg a day may be healthier for you than you think.
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Magnesium: The Unsung Hero
Magnesium, an essential mineral for the overall health of the body, aids the body in regulating calcium levels. Approximately 50-60% of the bodys magnesium is stored in the skeletal system. Due to its importance to the skeletal system, both structurally and functionally, it cannot be left out of any discussion of bone health.
Like vitamin D, magnesium supports calciums functions. Specifically, it is active in the transport of calcium across cell membranes. Additionally, it supports the structural development of new bone tissue.
Magnesium is plentiful in nuts, leafy green vegetables, and beans. If you arent regularly eating these foods, consider a magnesium supplement, especially if you consume alcohol or caffeine, which both deplete magnesium levels in the body.
Eat Lots Of Vegetables
Vegetables are great for your bones.
Theyre one of the best sources of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of bone-forming cells. In addition, some studies suggest that vitamin Cs antioxidant effects may protect bone cells from damage .
Vegetables also seem to increase bone mineral density, also known as bone density.
Bone density is a measurement of the amount of calcium and other minerals found in your bones. Both osteopenia and osteoporosis are conditions characterized by low bone density.
A high intake of green and yellow vegetables has been linked to increased bone mineralization during childhood and the maintenance of bone mass in young adults .
Eating lots of vegetables has also been found to benefit older women.
A study in women over 50 found those who consumed onions most frequently had a 20% lower risk of osteoporosis, compared to women who rarely ate them .
One major risk factor for osteoporosis in older adults is increased bone turnover, or the process of breaking down and forming new bone .
In a three-month study, women who consumed more than nine servings of broccoli, cabbage, parsley or other plants high in bone-protective antioxidants had a decrease in bone turnover .
Consuming a diet high in vegetables has been shown to help create healthy bones during childhood and protect bone mass in young adults and older women.
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Who Should Buy A Bone Density Supplement
Bone density is critical. If your bones are not dense, you increase the risk of accidentally breaking a bone and getting osteoporosis. Osteoporosis comes with its host of problems. Those with osteoporosis are more likely to experience early bone loss and breaks. It may cause you to get shorter, usually by an inch or more. It can also cause shortness of breath as your compressed disks lose density. You may feel pain in your lower back as well.
While many people experience mild osteoporosis, it can be quite severe in some cases.
The main risk factor for osteoporosis is calcium deficiency. Your body needs calcium. If it doesnt get it, itll pull it from your bones, which makes them lose density. Many bone-density supplements include quite a bit of calcium to prevent this from happening.
Not everyone is at risk for developing osteoporosis, though. So you may not necessarily need a supplement. Your bones can only get so dense, so there is little reason to take a supplement unless you need it. However, you should take a supplement if you have one or more of the following risk factors, as they make you more likely to get osteoporosis:
Menopause can make your bones lose density .
If youre thinner, you may be at an increased risk of bone density loss as well.
Vegetarians are more likely to develop osteoporosis, as were those that ate red meat more than four times a week .
Why Does The Body Need Calcium
Calcium is the healthy bone mineral. About 99% of the calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth. It’s the mineral that makes them hard and strong. The remaining 1% is needed for many activities that help keep the body functioning normally. Calcium helps blood vessels contract and expand, makes muscles contract, helps send messages through the nervous system and helps glands secrete hormones.
Bones are constantly being remodeled every day, and calcium moves in and out of them. In children and adolescents, the body builds new bone faster than it breaks down old bone so total bone mass increases. This continues until about age 30, when new bone formation and old bone breakdown start occurring at about the same rate. In older adults, especially in post-menopausal women, bone is broken down at a faster rate than it’s built. If calcium intake is too low, this can contribute to osteoporosis.
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Best Supplements For Preventing Bone Loss Say Dietitians
Osteoporosis is no fun. The disease of having brittle bones means you’re more likely to suffer a fracture. As we age, maintaining healthy bones is of particular importance to help us stay strong and independent. So is there anything we can do? Yes.
“While an individual may have weak bones due to some factors that are completely out of control, like our genetics, there are some lifestyle changes we can take that may support bone health,” says registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, for Zhou Nutrition. “Participating in weight-bearing exercise, eating a diet rich in calcium and other bone-building nutrients, and avoiding cigarette smoking can all support bone health.”
Calcium isn’t the only mineral that supports bone health, and there are many surprising foods that support this essential body part. “Certain foods really make a difference in your bone health. For instance, research in Osteoporosis International found that eating five to six prunes a day can help prevent bone loss,” says, Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based dietitian and owner of Master the Media.
While it is possible to eat a diet rich in bone health-supporting nutrients, “you may not be getting all the nutrients you needand in the amounts you need themfrom diet alone, which is when supplements can be helpful for bone health,” says Gorin.