The Light That Makes Your Bones Stronger

sun, sunlight, strengthNew research confirms that vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) -- and therefore exposure to sunlight -- is essential for maximizing your bone health, and for preventing and treating a variety of bone diseases.

Vitamin D3 enhances your intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus. The major source of vitamin D3 is exposure of your skin to sunlight, since very few foods naturally contain vitamin D3 or are fortified with vitamin D3 (most foods are fortified with the less effective vitamin D2).

But vitamin D deficiency is pandemic, and can cause osteopenia, osteoporosis and osteomalacia. Unlike osteoporosis, osteomalacia causes aching bone pain, and is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome or even depression. Vitamin D deficiency also causes muscle weakness, which can increase your risk of falls and fractures.

Adequate vitamin D levels can be sustained by getting sensible sun exposure or ingesting at least 800-1000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Here in the United States, conventional health “experts” have succeeded in scaring so many people out of the sun with their misleading information that up to 85 percent of the population is deficient in vitamin D.

This is a devastating fact, as the simple action of spending some time in the sun everyday, with a large portion of your skin exposed, will give you all of the vitamin D you need.

Vitamin D, or “the sunshine vitamin,” is clearly associated with stronger bones and preventing osteoporosis. But did you know that it can also help to prevent:
Are You Getting the Vitamin D You Need?

If you spend ample time in the sunshine everyday, you are probably getting enough vitamin D. The vast majority of people however, are not doing this, either because they spend too much time indoors or because they live in an area that does not provide year-round access to warmth and sunlight.

I recommend that nearly everyone -- and especially those of you who do not get much sun exposure or who have a vitamin-D associated medical condition such as MS or osteoporosis -- get your vitamin D levels tested to find out if you’re deficient.

The correct blood test your doctor needs to order is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

When you get the results, please ignore the reference ranges provided by the lab, as there’s a high chance that they will be incorrect.

Your vitamin D level should never be below 32 ng/ml, and any levels below 20 ng/ml are considered serious deficiency states, increasing your risk of breast and prostate cancers, autoimmune diseases, and many others. To get an idea of just how widespread vitamin D deficiency is, consider that the late winter average of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the United States is only about 15-18 ng/ml!

The OPTIMAL value of vitamin D that you’re looking for is 50-55 ng/ml (115-128 nmol/l).

If you find that you are deficient, you have three options:
  • Get more sun exposure (this is by far the best option)
  • Use a safe tanning bed that has had any harmful X-ray or electromagnetic emissions eliminated
  • Take a vitamin D3 supplement
If you opt to use a supplement, keep in mind that vitamin D3 is the only effective form (vitamin D2 is highly inferior), and that you can overdose if you’re not careful. So if you are taking a vitamin D3 supplement, be sure you have your vitamin D levels tested regularly to avoid this.

For even more details about how you can use sun exposure to benefit your health, keep an eye out for my forthcoming book on the topic, Dark Deception, which is coming out this spring.

More Ways to Keep Your Bones Strong

When it comes to bone health, vitamin D is a major player, but it is not the only one. What else can you do to keep your bones healthy?

1. Get plenty of omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your intake of omega-6 fats from vegetable oils. (Studies have shown that a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is linked to lower bone density at the hip -- a condition that could lead to osteoporosis.)

2. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K. It serves as the biological "glue" that helps plug the calcium into your bone matrix. Green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin K, but even better is natto, a fermented soy food that I personally eat nearly every day (it has the highest concentration of vitamin k in the human diet).

3. Eat more vegetables, according to your nutritional type.

4. Exercise regularly. This, along with diet, is a KEY to building strong bones.

5. Get the right kind of calcium. The best form of calcium is from milk. However, I would strongly advise you to avoid pasteurized milk like the plague. An acceptable alternative for most is raw milk. You can also convert the raw milk to kefir (fermented raw milk) for an excellent source of vitamin K2 as well.

+ Sources and References