Pump up your Osteopenia treatments with Vitamin D

Recent research reveals how important Vitamin D is in Osteopenia treatments! Recent studies place it 'center stage' in bone building.

Get the basic information.

  1. Vitamin D is the key to calcium absorption. When there is a deficiency, there is always a negative effect on bone density.

    In children, such a deficiency can lead to rickets, in adults, to osteomalacia. Both of these are bone softening conditions. Both can be treated successfully with supplements.

  2. Vitamin D has three main forms and all three are important:
    • First, is the form as it is absorbed - either from our intestines or from our skin through ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
    • Second is the form created in our liver from the first absorbed form. This second form is called 25 hydroxy-vitamin D5.Our bodies have more of this 2nd form than any other.
    • The third form is the most important. It is made in our kidneys from the 2nd form (25 hydroxy-vitamin D). This 3rd form is the active form and it is called calcitriol (1.25 dihydroxy-Vitamin D). This is the form that helps in the absorption of calcium.
    Note the importance of our liver and kidneys in the transformation from the first into the third form. The main reason that excess alcohol makes for poor bone building ( see: Osteopenia Risks ) is its negative effect on the liver.It is also the reason why kidney disease is often a precursor to Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.

  3. Calcium supplements are only helpful if there is enough stage 3 Vitamin D in the body to ensure that the calcium can be absorbed.

Protect yourself with this information:

When creating plans for Osteopenia Treatments, remember that Vitamin D is another case when too much of a good thing can be a problem. You do not want to over do it and take too much.


When we are in the process of converting stage 2 Vitamin D into its stage 3 form, it is parathyroid hormone (PTH) that stimulates our kidneys to do this conversion. If you have too much stage 2 Vitamin D in your body, that can cause the release of too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).

Because PTH also stimulates osteoclasts - the cells that dissolve bone, releasing too much PTH can lead to bone loss. You do not want too much PTH in your system - especially if you have Osteoporosis or Osteopenia. It can sabotage your whole plan for Osteopenia treatments

If you take too much Vitamin D, you could stimulate a cycle of bone loss. Taking too much can backfire in Osteopenia treatments - Vitamin D usage.

How Calcitriol became a Bone building medication.

Some people ask if using the third stage Vitamin D, Calcitriol,

could become a way around the PTH problem. If too much of stage 2 can create problems, why not supply the body with the third stage Vitamin D directly? That way parathyroid hormone would not be stimulated. Direct supplements of Calcitriol [stage 3] could let the body skip stage 2 altogether in the Osteopenia treatments Vitamin D.

Direct supplementation with Calcitriol is a medical treatment. However. Calcitriol can cause problems also. It can raise calcium levels too much. And its long term use can damage our kidneys. Calcitriol has to be monitored. (This is another reason why you need your health care provider involved in monitoring your Osteoporosis and Osteopenia treatments.)

So, how much Vitamin D is enough?

Do not hit the delete button for this page when I say, "Well, it depends". Because it does depend on a number of different things. There is no one answer that fits everyone's Osteoporosis and Osteopenia treatments.

Why? There are several reasons for this:

  1. Some people have a genetic predisposition that prevents adequate absorption of Vitamin D from food or sunlight.

    In 1994, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases News noted that researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney Australia, had discovered the gene that affected Vitamin D's action on bone and calcium metabolism.

    We now know that those with the BB version of the Vitamin D Receptor [VDR] gene have the lowest bone density and those with Bb version have the next lowest. Persons with the bb version of Vitamin D receptor gene have the best bone density. (This study may give us the reason why 'genetic factors' have long been included among the risks for Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. See:Risk Factors Osteoporosis.

    Persons without the negative genetic predisposition , can usually gain sufficient Vitamin D from sunlight exposure. The following apply to the uptake of Vitamin D from sunlight.

    • The lighter your skin, the more Vitamin D you make. If you have fair skin, for example, and live in a temperate climate zone, it takes just 15 minutes a day to produce 100 - 200 units of vitamin D3. If your skin is darker, it takes longer.

    • If you use sun protector of SPF of 8 or higher, it will block the ultraviolet rays necessary for this process to take place. But ultraviolet light increases skin cancer risk. So, health care providers such as Leon Root M.D. recommend that their clients use no sunscreen for the first few minutes BUT THEN apply sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or better for the rest of their time in the sun as part of their plans for Osteoporosis or Osteopenia treatments. Others, such as Miriam Nelson, Ph.D. are more cautious and advise wearing sun protection with SPF of 15 on very vulnerable parts of the body such as the face but allow exposure of arms and legs for 10 - 15 minutes at mid-day but then apply sunscreen after that time is up. The sun can be part of a Osteopenia treatment plan.

    • Those who live North of the 42nd parallel in the Northern Hemisphere or South of the 42nd parallel in the Southern Hemisphere, can not get sufficient sunlight in winter to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. This is significant for those living in Canada or in the USA eg. Boston, Minnesota etc. as well as those living in Argentina and Chile. They need some additional help in their Osteopenia treatments.

    • As we age, it appears that our ability to make Vitamin D from sunlight exposure decreases. Again, this may mean that we need supplements as part of our Osteopenia treatment plan.

  2. Liver and kidney disease can interfere with the Vitamin D processing cycle ...as can alcohol, anti-convulsive drugs etc. And so someone with any of these conditions may need greater supplementation.

For all these reasons, it is important to discuss your requirements for Vitamin D with your health care provider. He or she may even recommend a blood test to determine your current levels and then make recommendations after reviewing the results.

These things are important. You can take lots of calcium but if you do not have sufficient (and not too much) Vitamin D, it will not work as an Osteopenia treatment.

Helpful information

Click here for information about food and other sources of Vitamin D

Current recommended guidelines for Supplementation with Vitamin D

Reserch about Vitamin D and Osteoporoiss and Osteopenia treatments

"Impaired vitamin D metabolism with aging in women. Possible role in pathogenesis of senile osteoporosis." by K S Tsai, H Heath, 3rd, R Kumar, and B L Riggs. J Clin Invest. 1984 June; 73(6): 1668–1672. Read the complete article here. Vitamin D metabolism

J Clin Invest. 1985 October; 76(4): 1536–1538. "Aging decreases the capacity of human skin to produce vitamin D3." J MacLaughlin and M F Holick Read the full article at Osteopenia treatments Vitamin D: Aging...Vitamin D

"Vitamin D insufficiency in a population of healthy western Canadians." Diana Rucker, Jane A. Allan, Gordon H. Fick, David A. Hanley. Read complete article Healthy Western Canadians - Vitamin D .

More articles about Vitamin D and Osteoporosis and Osteopenia treatments:

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1982 May; 79(10): 3325–3329. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3: short- and long-term effects on bone and calcium metabolism in patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis . J C Gallagher, C M Jerpbak, W S Jee, K A Johnson, H F DeLuca, and B L Riggs.

Effect of vitamin D on bone mineral density of elderly patients with osteoporosis responding poorly to bisphosphonates . George A Heckman, Alexandra Papaioannou, Rolf J Sebaldt, George Ioannidis, Annie Petrie, Charlie Goldsmith,and Jonathan D Adachi.

References used about Osteoporosis and Osteopenia treatments:

Allan R. Cook [ed] Osteoporosis Sourcebook . Omnigraphics, 2002.

Harris H. McIlwarin, M.D. and Debra Fulghum Bruce, Ph.D. Reversing Osteopenia Henry Holt, 2004.

Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D. and Sarah Wenich, Ph.D. Strong Women, Strong Bones . G. P. Putnam, 2000.

Leon Root M. D. & Betty Kelly Sargent. Beautiful Bones without Hormones. Gotham. 2004

Stepehen Schettini. The Osteoporosis Remedy Penguin Putman, 2001. pp. 85-87.

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