When you think of bone and teeth health, calcium is the first thing that comes to mind. Understandable, because calcium is the main mineral needed for bone growth and strength.
However, there is another nutrient needed for good bone health and strength: vitamin D. Why is it important for bones?
Bone Growth and Development
Bones take an incredibly long journey to grow. They start forming in the womb, before a person is born. They don’t finish developing until after 25 years.
Calcium is the main mineral needed for the formation, growth, and repair of bones. It’s why growing kids are encouraged to eat calcium-rich foods such as eggs, tofu, leafy greens, milk, yogurt, and fortified juices and cereals.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is just as important as calcium. Without vitamin D, it doesn’t matter how much calcium you get. This is because the body won’t be able to absorb calcium without vitamin D.
A lot can happen to a person’s bones throughout 25 years. Sometimes they break or splinter. They elongate and thicken.
Teeth, too, change during the years. Baby or milk teeth fall out to make way for adult or permanent teeth.
All these changes with the bones and teeth will require calcium. And if calcium is required, so is vitamin D.
Bone Health Without Vitamin D
Without enough vitamin D and calcium, bones lose their density and toughness with age. This can lead to several bone-related problems, such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
Osteoporosis is the condition where bone mass is reduced. The body needs calcium from time to time, because calcium plays a role in blood pressure regulation. When the body needs calcium, it takes some from the calcium stored in bones. If the body has enough vitamin D and calcium supplementation, this wouldn’t be a problem. The body can just store calcium again.
Without vitamin D, however, the body can’t absorb calcium. The calcium stores in the bones will continue to get depleted, resulting to shrunken, brittle bones.
Osteomalacia is the condition where the bones are softened because of insufficient calcium and vitamin D. People with this condition are prone to bone fractures and breaks.
Osteomalacia is the term for the condition if presented in an adult. In children, it’s known as rickets.
When Should You Start Taking Vitamin D Supplements?
As early as you can, especially if you can’t get natural vitamin D from sun exposure or whole foods. Because bones continue to form and grow until 25, it’s important to supply your body with enough vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus that it needs.
Vitamin D absorption also gets harder as you get older. It’s advisable to start taking supplements early on so your bones won’t suffer with osteoporosis or osteomalacia when you reach your senior years.
There are many good vitamin D supplements to choose from. Just look for a brand with only vitamin D (and a carrier oil as vitamin D needs oil for absorption). Many choose to take vitamin D drops as liquid vitamin D is easier for young and old alike to take.