Vitamin D and brittle bones

 
By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 31st, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to thin and brittle bones and an increased chance of breaks.

And for some people, the problem can start before they’re even born.

English researchers have found that children have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis as they age when their mothers didn’t get enough vitamin D during pregnancy.

In pregnant women, vitamin D is like a taxi for calcium, carrying this bone-building mineral to the fetus where it helps build strong bones. In adults and children, the nutrient is also needed to help the body absorb calcium.

The researchers studied the vitamin D levels of hundreds of pregnant women in the early 1990s and then tested many of their children for signs of low bone density about a decade later. Many of the children whose mothers didn’t get enough vitamin D during pregnancy had lower bone mass than children whose mothers did get enough.

Researchers have been trying to understand more about the helpful effects of vitamin D in recent years. The vitamin affects many parts of the body but few studies have been done to find out just how much of an effect it has. Some doctors even think a lack of it could be linked to other serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and arthritis.

There has also been little research to explain how much vitamin D people need, although many doctors recommend children and pregnant women take supplements.

It could be the best bet for battling brittle bones.