A recent clinical review reported in the NY Times provides great news for older adults. A meta-analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials, together representing over 65,000 subjects suggests that Vitamin D reduces the risk for non-vertebral fractures by 20 % and hip fractures by 18%.
Investigators report that 400 IU of vitamin D (the Recommended Dietary Allowance by the FDA and typically in one Centrum multivitamin pill) had no ‘discernible effect’ and higher doses (480 – 700 IU/day) are required.
Vitamin D is an important requirement for healthy bones. Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption in the gut, an essential component of bones. Lack of Vitamin D can cause bones to lose calcium, becoming thin and brittle, and prone to fractures. Vitamin D is also important for a healthy immune system.
Vitamins D is naturally present in very few foods and is thus added to milk sold in the US. When taken together with calcium vitamin D protects older adults and particularly women from osteoporosis – a thinning of bones.
Exposure to sunlight is an important source of vitamin D synthesis in the body. Folks living in areas with many months of winter may not get enough sun during the winter months and should consider taking Vitamin D supplements.