Vitamin D Important for Healthy Bones

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From helping with bone growth to reducing the risk of a variety of chronic and infectious diseases, vitamin D is an important part of healthy growth and development for people of every age.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin the body gets from exposure to the sun, certain foods, and dietary supplements, according to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH).

Calcium absorption is promoted by vitamin D, which helps ensure bones stay strong and healthy. Without enough vitamin D, bones can become brittle, which puts people at higher risk of fractures, according to the NIH. Calcium and vitamin D together help protect against osteoporosis.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets – a bone-softening disease – in children, according to the American Academy of PediatricsOff Site Icon (AAP).

The same deficiency in adults can lead to osteomalacia, a softening of the bones that makes it easier for them to bow and fracture, NIH.

Some groups of people are more likely than others to have vitamin D deficiencies. Those groups, according to the NIH, include: 

Vitamin D also is thought to protect against diabetes, hypertension, and some types of cancer, including colon cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer, according to the NIH.

While only a few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D – including some fatty fish and fish liver oils – many foods in the U.S. are fortified with vitamin D, according to the Harvard School of Public HealthOff Site Icon (HSPH).

Milk and infant formula are fortified with 400 IU per quart in the U.S. Examples of other foods that often are fortified with vitamin D include cereals, yogurt, orange juice, margarine, oatmeal, eggs, bread, and soy drinks, according to the NIH.

Though people can get vitamin D directly through the skin by sun exposure, too much sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer, according to the NIH. 

Many people need to take vitamin D supplements to avoid vitamin D deficiency because the amount they get from food and the sun isn’t nearly as much as they need. Like with any medication, talk to your primary care provider (PCP) before adding a supplement to your routine.

Blood work – requested by your PCP – is the best way to determine if you are getting enough vitamin D. If not, your PCP can recommend a type of vitamin D supplement that would be best for you.

For more information about vitamin D, talk with your sports medicine or orthopedic doctor or visit our Orthopedics page to find a physician. 

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.