Vitamin D and osteoporosis

bigstock-Vitamin-D-Written-In-The-Sand-38126068See the latest headlines that vitamin D supplementation doesn’t reduce hip fracture and osteoporosis risk? If you saw it, or herd it, just ignore it, otherwise you could suffer.  This is another example of researchers using selective criteria in a meta analysis to get the results they want. In this case they ignored the science of bone health and selected only one nutrient, vitamin-D, to study.

When they looked at vitamin D supplementation alone, there wasn’t much of reduction in osteoporosis. but when you look at vitamin D and Calcium together there was a 14% reduction. Had they looked at all the vitamins and minerals necessary for bone growth and remineralization, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, boron, and selenium, then there would have been a very positive result.  Vitamin D is necessary and must be present for calcium to be absorbed into the bone matrix, but calcium and the other vitamins and minerals listed must also be present. A deficiency in any listed above will hamper calcium absorption.

Many studies you see regarding various vitamins and minerals tend to look at just one vitamin or mineral to measure its impact and treat it like they are studying a drug. Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements all work together to support your bodies biological functions, they don’t work in isolation.

When you see mention of a meta analysis be especially wary. A meta analysis is not a new research study. In a meta analysis they look at multiple existing studies and attempt to draw a conclusion from those. In selecting studies to include in the meta analysis they have selection criteria, in this case studies involving vitamin D and osteoporosis.  What that did was exclude studies which looked at vitamin D and calcium, or vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, boron, and silicon. Had they found studies with the latter combination of nutrients the results would have been much different.

So why would a researcher not look at other studies? To answer that you usually have to look at who funded the study. Often pharmaceutical drug companies will fund such studies to discredit natural alternatives vs. their high profit drugs, and there have been studies showing that who funded the study has a very good likelihood that the researcher will find results favorable to who is paying the bill.  I couldn’t find the source of the funding for this study, but my guess they had an interest in promoting high cost drugs vs inexpensive supplements.

The Institute of Medicine recommends dietary intake for adults of 600-800 IU of vitamin D and 1000-1300 mg of calcium daily, and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identifies supplements containing combinations of certain nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D as useful in postmenopausal women who have low levels of these nutrients in their diets to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has an approved health claim for calcium, vitamin D and osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis-related fractures in the U.S. cost an estimated $14 billion in 2012. They also place tremendous financial, mental and physical burdens on the individual. A new economic report from Frost and Sullivan found that over $12 billion in cumulative osteoporosis-attributed cost savings is potentially realizable, between 2013 and 2020, if U.S. women over the age of 55 diagnosed with osteoporosis were to use calcium and vitamin D dietary supplements at what the report identified as preventive intake levels. The daily cost per person in the targeted population to supplement would be $.16—not ‘expensive’ compared to the costs one, or the overall system, would incur if appropriate levels of vitamin D were not met. Supplementation is smart prevention.

Source: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)61647-5/abstract

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