Research has shown that there is a clear link between vitamin D blood levels and bone mineral density (BMD). In most people, but especially in the elderly, vitamin D deficiency is common. In the elderly this deficiency often occurs because of reduced exposure to sunlight, excessive use of sunscreen, as well as a reduced ability to synthesize vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is essential for the intestinal absorption of calcium. When levels are low, less calcium enters the blood stream and is therefore unavailable for bone mineralization and support. This general depletion results in reduced bone structure and strength, which is often more prevalent in older women. A recent study published in Osteoporosis International (March 2010), reported a noted increase in bone mineral density in postmenopausal women after daily supplementation with vitamin D and calcium.
The Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention- Fracture Prevention Study (OSTPRE-FPS) followed 593 women, the average age being 68.5 years, either receiving daily supplementation or none at all, over a three year period. Supplementation consisted of vitamin D 400 IU and calcium 500 mg, twice daily. Study results demonstrated a significant total body bone mineral density increase in those receiving supplementation when compared to those not supplemented. This study, as do other studies, demonstrates the need for vitamin D and calcium supplementation for strengthening and retaining skeletal health.