Vitamin D for Improving Bone Density

Updated on September 3rd, 2020
Vitamin D for bones

Vitamin D is necessary for healthy muscles and bones. Without Vitamin D, our bodies cannot properly absorb calcium, which is essential to excellent bone health.

Kids who lack Vitamin D develop a condition called rickets, which causes bowed legs, bone weakness, and other skeletal abnormalities, such as stooped posture.Today, physicians are seeing an increase in the number of kids with rickets. 

What is Vitamin D all about?

Vitamin D is not a vitamin! Vitamins are special nutrients that our body needs but cannot prepare, so they must be obtained from supplements or what we eat. Because our bodies can prepare Vitamin D in our skin when it is exposed to adequate sunlight, Vitamin D is regarded as a hormone [1]

How did we know about Vitamin D and its prominence?

When our forefathers stopped working in the fields and entered schools or factories, rickets began to be a problem. It was normally seen during winter months, particularly in northern regions.

In about 1920, people noticed that kids who took cod liver oil rarely got rickets. This led to the uncovering of Vitamin D and the starting of diet supplementation of Vitamin D [2].

[Also Read: About Vitamin D Deficiency]

Why Is there a new buzz on Vitamin D today?

Recent studies have stressed the importance of Vitamin D — not just for good bone health, but also for possibly preventing chronic disease when we get older. Yet, many kids today are not getting adequate Vitamin D.

There are various reasons kids today do not get sufficient Vitamin D. A vital one is that very few foods contain adequate levels of the vitamin. Even the healthiest of diets will possibly not provide a child with adequate Vitamin D [3].

Changes in lifestyle have also played a role. Various aspects of modern-day childhood impact Vitamin D intake:

  • Kids today spend hours in front of a television or a computer, rather than playing outdoors.
  • Few children walk to school regularly.
  • Many popular sports, such as volleyball, basketball, and gymnastics, are indoor sports.
  • Milk consumtion by children has steadily decreased in favor of juice or soda. 
  • Apply sunscreen with outdoor activity

Spending excessive time indoors can affect the number of Vitamin D children’s bodies make. Parents must apply sunscreen to their kids when they venture outside.

Kids today spend prolonged periods of indoor time and are inactive. It is well-known that fitness levels among children are on the decline, and obesity levels are increasing. Kids should have at least half an hour to two hours of physical activity every day. Without it, they cannot develop healthy bones (or healthy bodies !).

Besides affecting kids’ fitness levels, spending so much time indoors has affected the amount of Vitamin D their bodies prepare. Our skin produces adequate levels of Vitamin D when we soak in the sun.

However, the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) cautions against indoor tanning or overexposure from the sun because tanning beds and ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can lead to skin cancer development [4].

  • It is essential to protect our skin by using sunscreen when outdoors. Sunscreen does, however, block your skin’s ability to prepare Vitamin D.
  • If playing outside and a healthy diet will not supplement children with enough Vitamin D, how do you make sure they get it?
  • The best way for today’s kids to safely get the Vitamin D their bodies require is to take Vitamin D supplements.

How much Vitamin D do we require?

Vitamin D is measured in units called IUs or “International Units.” According to the NCBI (Institute of Medicine—Food and Nutrition Board), and the NIH (National Institutes of Health)—Office of Dietary Supplements, the Recommended Daily Allowances for Vitamin D among kids is:

  • 400 IU/day for children aged 0-1 year
  • 600 IU/day for children aged 12 months-18 years
  • This is the amount that seems to avoid rickets, not the quantity that will result in the strongest bones. 

Recent studies support that children over age 5, adolescents, and adults need at least 1000 IU daily for robust health — depending on weight, age, and growth. Indeed, many people require more than 1000 IU to keep Vitamin D levels in a reasonable range.

[Also Read: How does Vitamin D reduce your risk of COVID-19]

What are the food sources of Vitamin D?

Not many foods inherently contain Vitamin D — it is present in adequate levels only in fish.

Some foods have Vitamin D incorporated into them (“fortification”). For instance, milk is fortified, but an eight-ounce milk glass provides only 100 IU of Vitamin D. Some other foods, like breakfast cereal, are fortified, but at deficient levels.

If the chicken was fed the vitamin, eggs could have little quantities of Vitamin D.Other dairy products — such as cheese and yogurt — are typically not fortified with Vitamin D [5].

Can we overdo Vitamin D?

Our skin cannot make excess Vitamin D — it stops when it is adequate in the blood — but there are chances to overdose on Vitamin D supplements.

Because excessive Vitamin D can be harmful, doses greater than 2000 IU/day should be taken with a word of caution, as advised by your physician, and based on blood test reports.

Does Vitamin D do more than support us to absorb calcium?

Vitamin D is essential for proper muscle health. People with deficient Vitamin D blood levels can be more likely to experience bone, or joint pain, muscle cramps.Research suggests that older adults who take Vitamin D seem to fall less often, probably due to more robust muscle function.

Bottom Line

Vitamin D is critical in multiple aspects of our health. Adults and Children alike should eat Vitamin D-rich foods, such as fish and milk, and take Vitamin D supplements to enjoy excellent bone health!

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