If you are over 50 and your healthcare provider has been following the original 2011 guidelines of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), there’s a pretty good chance that after a routine blood test it was suggested you take a Vitamin D supplement.
That’s because this respected organization advised the general population to take 600 to 800 international units (IU) daily to boost bone health and protect against a host of conditions.
But the latest research shows that taking vitamin D supplements doesn’t do the job. This, along with other recent D research, was conducted under the umbrella of the VITAL study funded by the National Academy of Medicine.
Despite previous assumptions, vitamin D does not help reduce cancer, cardiovascular disease or atrial fibrillation. It also doesn’t protect against macular degeneration, or reduce knee pain or migraine frequency.
The most recent study involving bone health is a big one that involved nearly 26,000 participants — men fifty years and older and women 55 years and older — who were assigned to take either 2,000 international units of vitamin D daily or a placebo and tracked for a five-year period. Incident fractures were reported by the participants on a yearly questionnaire.
It’s estimated that half of folks over the age of fifty have weak bones. It was believed that taking D supplements could prevent fractures because researchers thought that as D levels fell, parathyroid levels would increase and as a result weaken our bones. But this relationship hasn’t held up under scientific scrutiny, the VITAL study found.
Not only does taking vitamin D supplements not reduce the risk of broken hips or other bones, “More is not better,” when it comes to taking vitamin D supplements, according to what Meryl LeBoff, director of the Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the study’s lead author, told the New York Times. In the same article, Clifford Rosen, who signed off on the National Academy of Medicine report said, “I don’t believe any more in 600 units. I don’t believe you should do anything.”
So if vitamin D supplements don’t help bones, what are some other ways to help keep your bones strong?
- Make strength training and weight bearing exercises part of your fitness program.
- Get enough healthy protein in your diet including chicken and seafood, as well as lentils and beans.
- Eat high-calcium foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs.
- Consume lots of green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and bok choy.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.