In a previous blog, I discussed how ineffective daily supplements are. That's because a large study had just demonstrated that the four most commonly used supplements—multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C—showed no consistent benefit for the prevention of heart disease, heart attack, stroke or death from any cause.
Nevertheless, with more than 900,000 supplements on the market and over 51% of U.S. adults taking supplements on a regular basis, the limited benefits of supplements have certainly not deterred use. And, despite the above data, even I continued to incorporate a Vitamin D supplement into my daily regimen, for its potential to impact the development of osteoporosis and because my Vitamin D levels are low.
But new research has shown that Vitamin D supplements are (you guessed it) ineffective at providing any bone health benefits.
Prior to research that was released earlier this month, scientists had thought that Vitamin D supplements help decrease the risk of osteoporosis by helping the body absorb calcium. As it turns out, new data shows that Vitamin D does not improve bone mineral density at all.
So how can you make sure you’re getting the vitamins your body needs to stay healthy? And help reduce the risk of osteoporosis? Food is the key!
Another recent study showed that eating the right foods can help reduce bone loss in people with osteoporosis. Turns out, sticking to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish can reduce bone loss within just 12 months!
When researchers randomized individuals with osteoporosis to eat a Mediterranean-type diet or a control one, they found that those on the non-Mediterranean diet continued to see progressive bone thinning. But those that increased their intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and healthy fats saw an actual increase in bone density.
What’s especially significant is that bone takes a long time to form, so documenting an improvement in bone health in as little as 12 months is very encouraging.
Now, when we set out to develop Step One Foods to help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, we weren’t even thinking about bone health. But it turns out, given that our products are full of nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits, we might just be helping to strengthen your bones too!
And what about those Vitamin D supplements? If you are Vitamin D deficient, it probably still makes sense to take Vitamin D tablets until you get your levels into the normal range. So I’m going to keep taking my supplement. The study that showed no benefit for osteoporosis primarily included people with normal Vitamin D levels.
By the way, getting enough Vitamin D from food is actually quite difficult (there's a reason it's called the sunshine vitamin), but some better sources include salmon, cod liver oil, tuna, and mushrooms.