Vitamin D is critically important for the maintenance of bone health throughout a women’s life. And, ironically, vitamin D declines with aging, just when we need it the most! Vitamin D helps to support a strong frame by enhancing the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestines to support in bone mineralization. However, vitamin D is not only important for bone development, but also for muscle function and postural stability. Several studies have shown beneficial effects of vitamin D on muscle strength, balance, and physical performance. Therefore, optimizing our vitamin D levels as we age may help to reduce our risk of falling and breaking a bone. There is also mounting evidence suggesting that vitamin D deficiency is linked to several chronic disease, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, infections, hypertension, congestive heart disease and some common cancers. Essentially every tissue and cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor, signifying that it is important to more than just the health of our bones! Luckily awareness of vitamin D deficiency is growing. As a result, the blood serum vitamin D test is the most ordered assay by doctors in the US!
Dr Holick, the leading authority on vitamin D, recommends 2000 to 3000 IUs of vitamin D a day from sensible sun exposure, dietary sources, and supplements. There are very few foods that can supple adequate vitamin D on a daily basis. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, and cod liver oil are among the best sources. However, be aware that farm raised fish have significantly less vitamin D than wild caught fish. There are also small amounts of natural vitamin D found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Supplements with vitamin D are the best solution if you have a lifestyle that does not lend itself to safe sun exposure. The current recommended dietary allowances set by the National Institute of Health for vitamin D supplementation in women over 50 are 600-800 IU/day. However, Dr. Holick recommends a daily vitamin D supplement of 1500-2000 IU/day with safe upper limits to 10,000 IU/day for adults.