Posted by on May 4, 2011 - 6:56am

If a bone density scan has placed you at risk for osteoporosis, you might want to think twice before starting a bone-building medication as a first course of action. Changing your diet to include more calcium and vitamin D is an effective and less risky strategy that doctors often disregard, according to a recent University of Illinois study published in the journal Nutrients.

Many doctors are quick to prescribe bone-building medication because they believe it's unlikely that people will change their diets, said study co-author Karen Chapman-Novakofski, professor of nutrition at University of Illinois. But these medications have risks, which ironically include an increase in hip fractures and jaw necrosis, and therefore should be used as a last resort when diet and supplements don’t help, she said.

In the study, which analyzed 219 articles in scientific journals, the researchers found that adults who increase their intake of vitamin D and calcium, whether through food or supplements, usually increase their bone mineral density and reduce their risk for hip fracture significantly.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults age 50 and older get a total of 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-1,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D every day. Karen Plawecki, lead author of the study, said it is possible to consume the recommended calcium without gaining weight. Three glasses of 1 percent or skim milk contain 900 mg of calcium, and many other foods, like soy milk, orange juice, cereal and bread, are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

The researchers also noted that following a low-sodium diet seems to have a positive effect on bone density. Click the National Osteoporosis Foundation links below for tips on getting enough calcium and vitamin D.

Posted by on January 6, 2011 - 8:26am

Calcium and Vitamin D are essential nutrients known for their role in bone health.   However, a lot of vitamin companies have been touting these two substances for all kinds of health benefits beyond the skeletal system. This has created some confusion about nutritional messaging.

To help clarify this issue, the US and Canadian governments requested the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the current data and outcomes related to these two nutrients.  Their findings were released in a brief on  November 2010 and are they are summarized below.

The overall conclusion was that most Americans and Canadians are receiving adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D.  However, there is some emerging evidence that too much of either substance can be harmful.  The committee looked at a full range of health outcomes ranging from a variety of health conditions including cancer, pregnancy, hypertension and bone health.   What they found is that a strong body of scientific evidence substantiates the importance of these two substances in bone health.   However, their review in areas outside of bone health, found that those studies often produced mixed or inconclusive results.   Higher levels of these products above the normal recommended amounts (there is a chart with recommendations by age group in the brief) have been linked to other health problems, challenging the concept "more is better".