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What supplement is the best for strong bones after 50?

Beyond exercising and eating healthy foods, taking this supplement can help support strong bones as you age, says Dietitian.

It’s hard to appreciate strong bones until you experience the effect of a broken one. While overall bone growth stops in your twenties, you can count on them staying relatively strong and stable until you reach age 50. After this milestone age, bone loss speeds up and rebuilding slows down, especially once menopause starts for women.

As with most parts of aging, you don’t have to accept weak bones as an inevitable fate—you can do something about it! While exercise and eating well can help, you may want to consider a supplement to keep your bones strong after age 50. A vitamin D supplement can help maximize bone strength and minimize bone loss as you age.

Without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t do its job of maintaining bone mass and strength. Calcium is a mineral necessary for bone growth, but you may not need to supplement calcium if you eat a variety of foods. After age 51, women need 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day, while men need 1,000 milligrams each day. Eating a few servings of dairy, soy, or canned fish along with fortified foods and drinks can help you easily meet your daily calcium needs.

“Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium, a key component of strong bones. As we age, our vitamin D levels tend to decrease, often due to decreased sun exposure,” says Amanda Lane, MS, RD, CDCES, founder of Healthful Lane Nutrition, LLC. Adults 51 to 70 years old need at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D daily.

1. Overview

Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs for building and maintaining healthy bones. That’s because your body can only absorb calcium, the primary component of bone, when vitamin D is present. Vitamin D also regulates many other cellular functions in your body. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties support immune health, muscle function and brain cell activity.

Vitamin D isn’t naturally found in many foods, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Your body also makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol).

The amount of vitamin D your skin makes depends on many factors, including the time of day, season, latitude and your skin pigmentation. Depending on where you live and your lifestyle, vitamin D production might decrease or be completely absent during the winter months. Sunscreen, while important to prevent skin cancer, also can decrease vitamin D production.

Many older adults don’t get regular exposure to sunlight and have trouble absorbing vitamin D. If your doctor suspects you’re not getting enough vitamin D, a simple blood test can check the levels of this vitamin in your blood.

There are different forms of vitamin D, including ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).

Taking a multivitamin with vitamin D may help improve bone health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.

Effective for

A rare, inherited bone disorder marked by low levels of phosphate in the blood (familial hypophosphatemia). Taking specific forms of vitamin D, called calcitriol or dihydrotachysterol, by mouth along with phosphate supplements is effective for treating bone disorders in people with low levels of phosphate in the blood.

Underactive parathyroid (hypoparathyroidism). Taking specific forms of vitamin D, called dihydrotachysterol, calcitriol, or ergocalciferol, by mouth is effective for increasing calcium blood levels in people with low parathyroid hormone levels.

Softening of the bones (osteomalacia). Taking vitamin D3 by mouth is effective for treating this condition.

A bone disorder that occurs in people with kidney disease (renal osteodystrophy). Taking a specific form of vitamin D, called calcitriol, by mouth helps to manage low calcium levels and prevent bone loss in people with kidney failure.

Rickets. Taking vitamin D by mouth is effective for preventing and treating rickets. A specific form of vitamin D, called calcitriol, should be used in people with kidney failure.

Vitamin D deficiency. Taking vitamin D by mouth is effective for preventing and treating vitamin D deficiency.

Likely Effective for

Bone loss in people taking drugs called corticosteroids. Taking vitamin D by mouth prevents bone loss in people taking drugs called corticosteroids. Also, taking vitamin D alone or with calcium seems to improve bone density in people with existing bone loss caused by using corticosteroids.

Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis). Taking vitamin D3 by mouth along with calcium seems to help prevent bone loss and bone breaks in people with osteoporosis.

Psoriasis. Applying vitamin D in the form of calcitriol, calcipotriene, maxacalcitol, or paricalcitol to the skin can help treat plaque-type psoriasis. Applying vitamin D along with corticosteroids seems to work better than applying vitamin D or corticosteroids alone. But taking vitamin D by mouth doesn’t seem to help.

2. Why you may need to supplement your diet with vitamin D?

Vitamin D is harder to find in foods. The only foods that naturally contain vitamin D are fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light. Dairy products and other drinks can be fortified with vitamin D.

While your body can make its own vitamin D through sun exposure, the process becomes less effective with age. Having dark skin, spending time indoors, and living in a northern latitude also increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

A European study with over 6,000 adults over age 50 found that 26.4% of adults were deficient in vitamin D. Without enough vitamin D, the body can’t absorb calcium into the bones, speeding the bone loss process.

3. Best types of vitamin D supplements

You can find vitamin D supplements available as D3 or D2. Studies have found that vitamin D3 is more effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D, making it the better option to reach for.

Before adding a supplement, always speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that the excess is stored in fat tissues. This makes it easier to overdose on vitamin D than on water-soluble vitamins that your body can get rid of more easily.

Source: Eatthis/Webmd!

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