“You better drink all your milk. You don’t want to grow up with weak bones!” If your mother is anything like mine, you probably heard this phrase countless times throughout your youth. Many people associate osteoporosis, a bone disease which leads to an increased risk of fracturing, with a calcium deficiency in their bodies. While that is certainly one primary cause of osteoporosis, many are unaware of another essential element which enables your bones to absorb and store calcium: Vitamin D. If you are interested in maintaining the health of your bones (and you should be), maintaining Vitamin D levels is essential.
Inside the body Vitamin D’s active form is termed calcitrol. The primary role of calcitrol is to increase the flow of calcium into the bloodstream by encouraging absorption of calcium and phosphorous from the food you eat which is stored in the intestines and the reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys. This process allows for the normal mineralization of the bones, which is key to maintaining their density and strength. Osteoporosis develops when bone density is reduced and proteins (both in number and variations) are restricted. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the calcium regulation process in the body. Studies show that people with insufficient Vitamin D levels absorb less than 10% of the available calcium in their systems. Regardless of how much calcium you introduce into your system, if your Vitamin D levels are not properly maintained, the calcium will not be properly absorbed into your system and your bones will not be properly nourished.
However, Vitamin D does more for your bones than simply stimulate the calcium regulation process. Maintaining an adequate storage level of Vitamin D keeps your bones strong. This is particularly important for the elderly, postmenopausal women, and those with movement limitations that cannot regularly exercise. This also benefits bone growth and the remodeling of bones through the cells which are responsible for their formation: osteoblasts and osteoclasts.
The further science progresses and the more that is uncovered by studies of Vitamin D, the more scientists discover ways it is beneficial to the human body. There are countless benefits to maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D in your body. One of the primary functions of Vitamin D is to enable the calcium regulation process, which plays a major factor in strengthening your bones. Without Vitamin D, your body would not function at its highest level and though you may not realize it, you make yourself susceptible to debilitating diseases later on in life. One major disease related to Vitamin D deficiency is osteoporosis. However, this can be prevented through introducing healthy levels of Vitamin D through receiving proper sunlight and eating healthy foods (in healthy amounts) such as fish (salmon, tuna), eggs and most dairy products. Preventing osteoporosis is only one major benefit to maintaining good Vitamin D levels. Dozens of other healthy advantages emerge as well. If you are currently concerned about the density and health of your bones, before reverting to unique “cures” or “treatments” try monitoring your Vitamin D levels… it may be just the solution you need.
Photo by hoyasmeg/ James Emery