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Vitamin D

Vitamin D halts development of osteoporosis in people taking antiseizure medications

Tuesday, October 09, 2007 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: vitamin D, osteoporosis, drug side effects


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(NewsTarget) Supplementing with high levels of vitamin D can help stem the bone loss caused by the long-term use of antiseizure medication, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

It has long been known that the antiseizure medications used to control epilepsy speed up bone breakdown, often leading to bone loss and osteoporosis. It is also known that vitamin D increases the calcium available to the body for maintaining bone structure by increasing calcium absorption during digestion and reducing its excretion through urine.

Researchers studied 72 adults and 78 children over the age of 10, all of whom were receiving antiseizure medications as a treatment for epilepsy. Some of the participants were given a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU, while the others were given a significantly higher amount (4,000 IU for adults and 2,000 IU for children).

The current daily recommended vitamin D intake is 400 IU, but recent studies have suggested that higher amounts are safe and also more effective in providing numerous health benefits.

All of the adult participants were already experiencing bone loss when the study began, indicated by the fact that they had a lower bone mineral density (BMD) than healthy adults of their age. After one year, adults who received the 4,000 IU treatment had demonstrated an improvement in BMD, although it still remained below the healthy level. Adults treated with 400 IU did not show any improvements in BMD.

All the children began and ended the study with healthy BMD. No significant difference was observed between the groups given 400 IU and 2,000 IU.

Vitamin D is naturally synthesized by the body during exposure of the skin to sunlight. As little as 30 minutes a day of sun on the face and hands for darker-skinned people and 15 minutes for lighter-skinned people can cause the body to synthesize all the vitamin D required for regular needs. Most people, however, don't receive adequate sunlight, or they block sunlight by using sunscreen, depriving their bodies of the ultraviolet radiation necessary to produce vitamin D.

Recent research shows that 92 percent of black babies and 66 percent of white babies born in the United States are now born in a state of vitamin D deficiency. See related story here.

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