By Elizabeth Foley
As women enter the golden years of life, preventive measures can be taken to reduce the risk of health issues. For instance, proper nutrition and sleep quality are known to enhance overall health and wellness. One preventive measure that is especially important for women to consider is maintaining proper levels of vitamin D. Research indicates that women suffer more than men from osteoporosis and fractures, which may be decreased by taking vitamin D supplements (1). How important is vitamin D when it comes to older women's bone health? It turns out that vitamin D plays an essential role in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. To be beneficial, vitamin D supplements should be taken alongside additional preventive measures. Here is an overview of effective vitamin D supplementation for aging women's bone health.
Vitamin D and Calcium
When you were a child, did anyone ever tell you that drinking milk gives you strong bones? That statement is true for two reasons: first, milk is fortified with a vitamin D supplement; and second, calcium and vitamin D work together to maintain bone health. Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium and maintaining the health of the skeletal system.
According to research, there is a direct benefit in postmenopausal women taking a vitamin D and calcium supplement. This research shows that vitamin D and calcium deficiency are not only linked to bone disease in the seniors, but can also worsen osteoporosis (2). This is because vitamin D deficiency leads to reduced calcium absorption in the intestines, which increases potential for osteoporosis.
Benefits of a women’s vitamin D supplement along with calcium include: increased bone mineral density, decreased bone turnover, and decreased nonvertebral fractures (3). When monitoring vitamin D levels, do not forget to check your calcium. Milk is just one calcium-rich dietary source. A number of other foods are also fortified with calcium such as cereal, orange juice, bread, and some soy milk. If you are looking for natural sources of calcium, you can have leafy greens, soybeans, and sardines.
Approximately 10 million adults over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis in the United States. Research has suggested a positive correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of falls and fractures due to muscular weakness and difficulty with movement and balance (4). Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation may decrease the risk of falls and fractures by improving muscle strength (5). Muscle strength can be gained from a combination of maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D along with strength training exercises. In addition, women can fundamentally support their bone health as they age by maintaining an active lifestyle with targeted workouts, along with sticking to a diet with proper nutrition.
Supplementing Diets with Vitamin D
A body of research demonstrates that vitamin D is valuable for women's bone health as they age. As we age, studies show that our intestines absorb less. This means older adults have an increased risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiency which can lead to lower bone density (6).
As we age, there is a need for increased screening for these types of health conditions. Screening tests can help diagnose a problem early. Contact your healthcare professional to discuss recommended screenings for your bone health. To learn more about effective dietary supplementation, you can visit Health by Principle.
1. The Role of Vitamin D Supplements in Women’s Health. (2013). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941188/
2. Holick, M. F. (1996). Vitamin D and bone health. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8642450/
3. Malabanan, A. O. (2003, March 12). Vitamin D and bone health in postmenopausal women. PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12737713/
4. Meehan, M., & Penckofer, S. (2014, December 1). The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4399494/
5. Laird, E., Ward, M., McSorley, E., Strain, J., & Wallace, J. (2010, July 1). Vitamin D and Bone Health; Potential Mechanisms. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257679/
6. Dawson-Hughes, B., Harris, S., Krall, E. A., & Dallal, G. E. (1997, September 4). Effect of calcium and vitamin d supplementation on bone density in men and women 65 years of age or older. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199709043371003
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