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Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation Helps Prevent Osteoporosis

A study conducted by a team of Australian researchers found that the increased supplementation of vitamin D and calcium can result to a significant increase in bone density and reduction in osteoporosis risk.


There are approximately 75 million people who suffer from the health condition in Japan, Europe and the United States. And according to statistics, women are four times more likely to develop the health condition than men.

A study conducted by a group of Australia researchers found that the supplementation of 400 IU of vitamin D3 and 800 milligrams of calcium can notably increase the bone strength and density of peripubertal female identical twins. The study was published in Osteoporosis International, a publication dedicated to discussing the issues on osteoporosis. The health condition is characterized by low bone density resulting to an increased risk of bone fracture and deformation of the wrist, spine and hip area.

The traditional approach in preventing osteoporosis aims to increase the person’s bone mass. And this can be achieved though calcium and vitamin D supplementation at pubescent years and in pre-menopausal age where the osteoporosis risk is noted to be higher. The bone build-up during the puberty years accounts to around 35 percent of a person’s adult bone mass.

Vitamin D and Calcium:  Effects on Osteoporosis

The researchers from the Australian Catholic University gathered a group of 20 identical twins and divided them into two groups. The first group was given a combination of vitamin D and calcium food supplement while the other served as the placebo group. The study lasted for six months and was the first to use pQCT, or peripheral quantitative computed tomography, to examine and measure the responses of the study participants’ bone structure. They found that the combination of vitamin D and calcium resulted to an increase in the study participants’ bone strength and bone density in the arm and shinbone by 4 to 66 percent depending on the specific bone area tested.

Earlier studies had already provided scientific evidence that calcium and vitamin D intake improves bone density and strength. A randomized trial conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Sheffield in the UK, for example, found similar results. The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, the researchers observed that the supplementation of 792 milligrams of calcium resulted to an increase in the study participants’ bone mineral content and bone density. They also observed that the effects were reversed once the supplementation stopped.

The annual sales for calcium food supplements was about $993 million in 2004 according to the information provided by the Nutrition Business Journal. And this is projected to increase to $22 billion by 2013 according to the survey conducted by the Ipsos Public Affairs for the Council of Responsible Nutrition.

The Relationship between Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is an essential nutrient needed for the essential function of the nerves, muscles and the heart. The inadequate supply of calcium in the body often results to the development of osteoporosis. Studies show that the lack of calcium intake in early life can result to low bone density and increased bone fracture rate in adulthood. National surveys, however, found that people are not satisfying their daily calcium recommendation to promote and maintain bone health.

The recommended calcium intake for children and young adults aged 9 to 18 years is 1300 milligrams.  This is according to the National Academy of Science. In order to ensure that the risk of developing osteoporosis is decreased, it is important therefore, that one’s daily calcium intake is in accordance with the recommended intake. However, simply eating foods rich in calcium and taking calcium supplements is not enough. The body needs the help of precursors to promote calcium absorption so that it can be effectively utilized by the body. The active form of vitamin D is calcitriol. The substance is responsible for calcium absorption and the storage of calcium in the bones.

There are three ways a person can satisfy his vitamin D needs: these are through the skin, from supplementation and from diet. Vitamin D can be produced by exposing the body to sunlight. Exposure to the sun without any protection for a minimum of 15 minutes in a few days a week can give the body enough vitamin D to function properly. Medical experts also suggest a minimum of 400 to 600 IU of vitamin D a day from food and food supplements to promote better calcium absorption. The richest natural sources of vitamin D are liver, saltwater fish and egg yolks.

Natural Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis

Increasing the intake of vitamin D and calcium is the first step to reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. The second step is to exercise regularly. Studies found that regular exercise, together with increased calcium and vitamin D consumption, can significantly reduce a person’s osteoporosis risk. Weight training can improve a person’s metabolism, tone the muscles and helps in maintaining health and strong bones. It is not important what kind of exercise a person does. But what is important is its frequency, intensity and consistency. Aerobics and weight training for a minimum of thirty minutes will make the bones stronger. Stair climbing, hiking, jogging and even dancing can produce enough movements keep the bones healthy and strong.

Eating foods rich in essential fatty acids is essential in keeping the intestinal lining healthy and more capable of absorbing minerals from the foods we eat. Vitamin A promotes better absorption of minerals like magnesium and calcium while antioxidants from natural sources helps reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis by protecting the bones from the damage caused by free radicals. Fruits and vegetables can also improve bone density by supplying the body with potassium and magnesium.

Get into the habit of having your bone density regularly checked. This is an important preventive measure to avoid the onset of osteoporosis. Bone density test will evaluate your osteoporosis risk and give you recommendations of whether you need to get more supplementation of vitamin D and calcium. Note that osteoporosis can remain undetected for years until you experience obvious symptoms like serious bone fracture and bone deformation. This makes early diagnosis very important.

Sources
nutraingredients.com
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
jacn.org
nutraceuticalsworld.com
niams.nih.gov

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  2. Vitamin K Blocks Calcium Buildup and Reduces Existing Calcification, Study Shows
  3. Cancer Risk Drastically Reduced by Vitamin D and Calcium Intake, Research Concludes
  4. Essential Mineral Lowers Osteoporosis Risk by Raising Bone Density, Research Shows
  5. Osteoporosis Drugs Potentially Double Cancer Risks, A New Study Shows
  


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