Vitamin D and osteoporosis:

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

When we think of bone health, calcium most often comes to mind, and vitamin D tends to take the back seat. Well, research proves that this is a backwards concept.

Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent and treat osteoporosis. In fact, it is believed to be even more important than calcium. That is because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only a small percent of dietary calcium.

Vitamin D is important for bone health as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. The majority of Americans are deficient in this essential vitamin. There are a number of reasons people are not getting enough daily or weekly vitamin D, leading to vitamin D deficiency.

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You may not get enough vitamin D if:

  • You do not get enough sunlight. If your body has regular exposure to the sun, it’s typically able to get the vitamin D it needs. However, many people do not get enough sunlight simply due to the amount of time they spend indoors, whether it is due to work, lifestyle or cold weather.
  • You wear sunscreen when outdoors. Sunscreen blocks the production of vitamin D.
  • You have darker skin. People with darker skin need more exposure to the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as people with lighter skin.
  • You do not take quality supplements.It is very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
  • You are obese, elderly, or pregnant. Your body needs more vitamin D than usual.

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Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.

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