UCLA Orthopaedic Surgery
1250 16th Street, Suite 2100, Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Additional offices in Encino and Thousand Oaks

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How Vitamin D Affects Your Bone Health

For strong and healthy bones, it is necessary that your diet is well balanced with adequate protein, minerals, and vitamins for the production and regeneration of bone. Bone health is especially important when you consider that Americans are living longer and maintaining bone density becomes difficult as your grow older. With March being National Nutrition Month, it is a good time to look at some foods you need to include in your diet for improved bone health.

Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc are minerals essential for building bones and can be obtained from milk, cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, avocadoes, meat, fish, eggs, beans, whole grains, bananas, and nuts. Vitamins D, K, and A are important for bone metabolism. Without these important minerals and vitamins your bone will become fragile and susceptible to low-impact fractures.

Did you know that approximately 30% of the US population has low vitamin D levels? The higher-risk groups include women, the elderly and those with dark skin. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium and phosphorus from food in the intestines. It also suppresses parathyroid hormone release which causes bone resorption. These actions help in the maintenance of bone health.

Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin that is exposed to sunlight. The amount of time you need to spend directly under the sun will vary depending on your skin type, age, and the amount of skin exposed. If you’re fair-skinned, approximately 15 minutes would be sufficient. For a dark-skinned person, it could be a couple of hours.

Foods that contain vitamin D include certain fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified dairy and bread products. Research studies have indicated that taking vitamin D decreases fracture risks in the foot, ankle, hip, and wrists. It also improves fracture healing.

If you are prone to have bone fractures or suspect that you have weak bones, you should speak to an orthopedic surgeon or your doctor about vitamin D level testing.

Erik N. Zeegen, M.D., a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, is one of Southern California’s leading joint replacement surgeons. His practice is focused on hip and knee replacement surgery, including revising hip and knee replacements that have failed. http://www.socaljointreplacement.com/