Researchers surveyed around 2,600 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis living in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific Rim. They found that in non-equatorial countries, rates of osteoporosis reached as high as 90 percent in some areas. Since low levels of vitamin D are known to contribute to osteoporosis, the new findings are particularly worrisome.
“This demonstrates that we must do more to educate our patients about the critical role of vitamin D in maintaining bone health, and find better ways to ensure that women with osteoporosis receive adequate vitamin D,” said Dr. Maire O’Connor, a specialist in public health attending the symposium. Both lack of information and inadequate intake of vitamin D are strong predictors of deficiency, according to the study.
In addition to its impact on osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depression, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. The body produces vitamin D in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. While supplementation can improve vitamin D levels, the most effective method is simply enjoying a little time in the sun.
Even though vitamin D is freely available through sensible sunlight exposure, osteoporosis, breast cancer and prostate cancer continue to be almost universally treated with prescription drugs rather than through safer and less expensive vitamin D restoration efforts. Conventional medicine does not promote vitamin D because it cannot be patented and, therefore, cannot be profitably promoted and sold to patients.