By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
How Vitamin D Keeps Your Bones Healthy
Vitamin D is a vitamin for bones. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is one of important player when it comes to bone health. The general functions of vitamin D include promoting strong bones, properly functioning muscles, and an encouraging an effective immune system.
Bones are made up of many minerals, calcium is the most important. Calcium makes bones strong and prevents them from breaking. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium. If you don’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in your blood, it may not absorb enough calcium to keep the bones healthy. It shown to reduce risk of osteoporosis, assist in the healing bone fractures and decrease risk of future bone breaks.
Our body is able to produce its own vitamin D, while with other kinds of vitamins, we need to get it from food. This vitamin D is being activated in the skin with exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight.
How does vitamin D deficiency happen?
- Kidney Problem. Kidney condition affects vitamin D production.
- Lack of sunshine. Asians usually avoid sunbathing to avoid freckles and wrinkles. When is the ideal time for sunbathing? 30 minutes under direct morning sun is enough for vitamin D production.
- 30-40% Asians genetically have vitamin D deficiency. Even though people who live at the tropical region most probably have enough sun exposure, nevertheless, a lot of them still suffer from vitamin D deficiency. In this case, it will useless to get more sun exposure. Food and supplementation are another ways to increase the vitamin D level.
Sources of Vitamin D
There are three ways you can get vitamin D:
Sunlight exposure is essential. Your skin makes vitamin D from the ultraviolet-B (UVB). Your body then stores the vitamin and uses it when it’s needed.
Vitamin D is available in a number of food items. Foods rich in vitamin D are:
- Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and cod
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt
Some people find it difficult to get the recommended amounts of vitamin D through diet alone.
When exposure to UVB radiation and your diet is insufficient, adequate intake of Vitamin D is essential for optimal health. It is hard to measure how much amount of vitamin D we take from food, therefore vitamin D supplement is more comfortable and easier to monitor daily dosage. The dosage depends on your blood levels and other health concerns.
Vitamin D deficiency is a silent disease. It does not show any symptoms and is usually detected after screening. Talk with us to check your vitamin D levels, especially if you have osteoporosis or broken/fracture bone.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.