ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
CAREGIVING
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Football Can Shrink Players
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
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Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk

MONDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Low levels of vitamin D can boost older women's risk for hip fracture by more than 70 percent, University of Pittsburgh researchers report.

The finding adds weight to the recommendation that people maintain adequate intake of vitamin D, which is primarily made by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.

The fracture-vitamin D link "has been observed for 15 years," noted Dr. Michael F. Holick, director of the Vitamin D Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University. "The good news is it's consistent, the higher your vitamin D status, the lower the risk of your developing a hip fracture."

The new report appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Hip fractures can be devastating for older individuals. In fact, 50 percent of older people who suffer a hip fracture will end up in a nursing home and 20 percent will die within the first year due to complications such as a pulmonary embolism resulting from the fracture, Holick said.

For this study, a research team led by Jane A. Cauley from the University of Pittsburgh collected data on 800 women aged 50 to 79. Researchers followed the women for up to nine years to determine their risk for hip fractures.

They found that the risk of hip fracture rose 33 percent with every 25 nanomoles per liter drop in vitamin D levels. Women with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 71 percent increase risk for hip fractures compared with women with the highest levels of vitamin D, the researchers report.

"We conclude that low serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with an increased risk for hip fracture in community-dwelling women. The mechanism of association is unclear," the authors wrote.

Holick notes that vitamin D is essential for the body's absorption of calcium, a key component of bone health. "If you don't have adequate vitamin D, you cannot efficiently absorb calcium," he said. "Vitamin D also helps maintain bone health by keeping bone cells active."

According to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, people should get between 200 and 400 international units of vitamin D a day. The best way to get vitamin D, naturally, is by being out in the sun.

As little as 10 to 15 minutes of sun a day can give you all a vitamin D you need. Vitamin D is also available in small quantities in foods such as fish and milk.

Preventing hip fracture is another good reason to keep your vitamin D levels up, Holick said. "To get vitamin D levels to where they need to be to reduce the risk of hip fracture, you need to be taking at least 1,000 international units of vitamin D a day from a supplement," he advised.

Dr. John Jacob Cannell, executive director of the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, agreed that most people are not getting enough of the nutrient.

"Women need to know their vitamin D status," Cannell said. "They need to ask their doctor for the right test," known as the 25 hydroxy D test. "Women should strive to keep your vitamin D levels above 125 nanomoles per liter, year round. To do that, they are going to require supplements."

Cannell recommends that before they get a blood test for vitamin D, women take 2,000 international units of vitamin D a day for three months.

More information

For more about vitamin D, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.



SOURCES: John Jacob Cannell, M.D., executive director, Vitamin D Council, Atascadero, Calif.; Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., director, Vitamin D Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University; Aug. 19, 2008, Annals of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: Aug. 19, 2008

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