Getting Enough Vitamin D Is Critical For Avoiding Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis—a condition in which bones become fragile from loss of tissue, often from deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D—affects approximately 10 million Americans1 over the age of 50. What's more, the likelihood of developing osteoporosis over the age of 80 increases 30% in men and 47% in women2, according to a 2017 review from Osteoporosis International.
It's clear that musculoskeletal health becomes a top concern later in life—and maintaining vitamin D sufficiency can help support your bone longevity in a major way.
The connection between vitamin D & osteoporosis.
You see, vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and also works to modulate healthy calcium concentrations3 in the body. That calcium is used to mineralize bones and maintain muscle strength in order to prevent fractures.
As we age, we lose bone density, and without adequate vitamin D, calcium can't be used to support optimal bone integrity. According to a 2021 review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vitamin D deficiency (VDD) accelerates bone turnover, loss, and fractures4. So it's no surprise that VDD (which already impacts 29% of all U.S. adults5) is extremely prevalent in older adults with osteoporosis.
How to achieve & maintain vitamin D sufficiency as you age.
Vitamin D sufficiency is vital for optimal musculoskeletal health—especially as you get older. "As we age, our cutaneous production, or the skin synthesis, goes down naturally," mindbodygreen's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, says on the mindbodygreen podcast. "Older age is a major vitamin D deficiency risk factor6 to be mindful of—for yourself and your loved ones," she adds.
The most effective way to reach and sustain healthy vitamin D status at any age is through quality, consistent vitamin D supplementation. Look for a supplement that delivers 5,000 IU of vitamin D3—bonus points if it also includes healthy fats for optimized absorption. (Check out mindbodygreen's roundup of the best vitamin D supplements for a list of products that fit the bill.)
Bone integrity and muscle strength decrease as we age, and vitamin D deficiency can expedite musculoskeletal conditions like osteoporosis.
To ensure you maintain healthy muscles and bones as you get older, make sure you're getting sufficient vitamin D to achieve and maintain sufficiency and support your musculoskeletal system.
RELATED: Not All Vitamin D Supplements Are Created Equal: Here Are Our Top Picks
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.