Vitamin D plays a critical role in developing and maintaining healthy teeth and bones all the way from infancy to adulthood. It does so quite simply actually. Its main job is to facilitate the entry of calcium and phosphorus into the body, both of which are essential minerals for building, maintaining and protecting bone tissues. Not only does vitamin D enhance the entry of calcium and phosphorus, but it also ensures a healthy balance in the blood.
Vitamin D is formed in the skin but it works to enhance calcium and phosphorus absorption in the intestinal tract, most particularly in the lower segment of the small intestine, which is called the ileum. In fact, 70 to 80% of calcium absorption occurs in this specific area of the intestines.1 So without vitamin D, your levels of calcium and phosphorus may not be optimal, and hence there might not be enough to effectively develop and maintain healthy bones.
Bone health during childhood is critical because 90% of bone growth actually takes place between the ages of 10 and 20 or 30 years.2,3 That means that during this period in life, a person’s bones will reach its peak density. Bone density is of the utmost importance for all of us later in life, because we start losing some of it in our later years. For women, bone loss mostly occurs rapidly immediately after menopause and then the rate of bone loss slows down.4 If too much bone density is lost, this could increase the risks of bones loss and osteoporosis. Bone research shows the more solid bones during their peak density stage (ie. adolescence and young adulthood), the more likely these bones will endure during later years. This is why health experts emphasizes the importance of exercise and good nutrition with adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus throughout life and especially during our younger years. In fact, osteoporosis has been referred to as “a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences” 2.
But that does not mean that you stop taking care of your bones after your 30’s. You still need to protect them. An analysis of 12 fracture prevention trials, which consisted of over 40,000 elderly people, mostly females, showed that a daily dose of 800 IU of vitamin D reduced hip and other non-spine fractures by 20%. Lower doses of vitamin D did not achieve such benefits.5
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Natalie Bourré is a Ddrops Guest Blogger. She is a mom of 4 young children, health writer and social media consultant who is passionate about promoting good health for the entire family. She is keen to share scientific information about about vitamin D in an easy to understand fashion. She also truly listens to people’s input and as such, she welcomes you to connect, discuss and share your questions and feedback with her on our social media accounts.
1. R.H. Wasserman. Vitamin D and the Dual Processes of Intestinal Calcium Absorption. J. Nutr. November 1, 2004
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2. Hightower L., Osteoporosis: pediatric disease with geriatric consequences, Orthop Nurs.2000 Sep-Oct;19(5):59-62.
3. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Kids and Their Bones, March 2015, http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/bone_health/juvenile/default.asp
4. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Peak Bone Mass in Women, June 2015, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/bone_mass.asp
5. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, et al. Prevention of nonvertebral fractures with oral vitamin D and dose dependency: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:551-61.