Vitamin D supplements are a known preventive treatment for osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease that increases the risk of fractures in the spine, wrist, hip, arm, or leg.
May is National Osteoporosis Month, an annual campaign designated to raise awareness of the prevention and treatment techniques for osteoporosis. Approximately 44 million people in the United States have osteoporosis, and an additional 10 million people are at risk for the disease. Current guidelines by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommend 600 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D daily for adults and 800 IUs for those over the age of 70 to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of fractures.
A Canadian study evaluated vitamin D intake among 573 hip fracture patients over the course of two years following hip fracture surgery. More than half of study participants were women, and the mean study age was 74.1. Researchers found that only 47.5 percent of patients consistently took the recommended amount of vitamin D supplements. Another 35.6 percent took supplements inconsistently, and less than 19 percent reported taking no vitamin D supplements at all.
“Vitamin D supplementation following hip fracture surgery is grossly under-prescribed,” said co-study author Mohit Bhandari, M.D., Professor and Academic Chair of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at McMaster University. “Given its potential to improve patient function independent of other therapies, it seems improved advocacy and education—aimed at doctors and patients—about vitamin D supplementation is both worthwhile and evidence-based.”
Vitamin D supplements are just one of many treatments that can help prevent subsequent fractures in osteoporosis patients. Other treatments include weight-bearing exercise, bone-strengthening medications, hormone supplements, and calcium supplements. The AAOS recommends that physicians screen and monitor elderly and at-risk patients for osteoporosis and assist them in receiving proper preventative treatment to reduce the risk of fractures (Source: OrthoSpineNews).