Bone Up on D

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April 29, 2010

Dairy delivers vitamin D.

New research has unearthed a dangerous gap in women's bone insurance policies. Eight out of ten women assume that they're getting enough vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis, reports the Society for Women's Health Research, which surveyed 500 women age 50 and older. But more than 70 percent don't get the amount needed to prevent bone-sapping osteoporosis. (Younger women also come up short, other research shows.)

Unless you get adequate vitamin D, about half the bone-building calcium you take ends up down the toilet, notes Felicia Cosman, MD, clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

How much vitamin D is enough? "You should get 400 IU every day-and 600 after age 70-from a multivitamin or calcium-plus-D supplement," says Cosman, who is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.

Some people might need up to 1,000 IU per day, depending on their current vitamin D levels. Cosman recommends having your doctor do a blood test to make sure you're not vitamin D deficient if you have osteoporosis, low bone-mineral density, or vitamin absorption problems (e.g., from celiac disease), or if you're premenopausal and have a history of breaking bones easily.

Quick tip: Forget exposing unprotected skin to the sun to produce vitamin D. Food and supplements can provide all you need.

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