Vitamin D, Osteoporosis and Calcium
Vitamin D and Osteoporosis
The key is to have the proper levels of calcium and vitamin D in
your body. When there is enough vitamin D, the body can absorb
the calcium you need from food and supplements. The
parathyroids will shut down, and stop pulling it from the
bones. Once the parathyroid hormone is no longer depleting the
bones of calcium, the body can begin to put it back into the
It may never return to a completely normal level, but you can
change the direction so that instead of decreasing bone
density, it actually begins to increase!
UPDATE: July 17,2012
I am here to give you hope today. My husband just had his latest
Dexa Scan. The results are fabulous! His spine had been the
weakest part, originally diagnosed as ADVANCED OSTEOPOROSIS.
Advanced osteoporosis means the bone density is more than
3 standard deviations from normal. His L4 vertebrae was (T
score) -4.3 standard deviations from normal in 2008 according
to the Dexa Scan. L1-L3 vertebrae ranged from -2.5 to -3.2. on
the T score of standard deviations.
The doctor put him on Fosamax in an effort to slow the bone
loss. (This type of medication works by slowing the breakdown of
bone) He was on it for about a year, but after hearing about
cases where people developed dead bone in their jaws, he stopped
taking it. He had been off of it for over a year before he
began the vitamin regimen with D3, sublingual K2 and Calcium.
So any old bone would have been removed.
He started this vitamin regimen, including the K2, which was
when the bone loss reversal began, about 4 years ago.
His current Dexa Scan shows all of his vertebrae, including the
very low L4, have come up in bone mass to a T score of -2.4 to
-2.6. The diagnosis now is BORDERLINE OSTEOPOROSIS. -2.5 is
the cutoff between Osteopenia and Osteoporosis.
This is a massive reversal! His Endocrinologist had told him
that she did not ever expect his bone mass to increase. But
it did, and by nearly 2 standard deviations in the L4 vertebrae!
So I believe that those with this hormonal form of bone loss
caused by Celiac Disease and low vitamin D CAN regain their
bone mass with this vitamin regimen. I have to believe, it
happened to us!
To understand T Scores and Dexa Scan see here
The important things to be aware of is that the vitamin D and
calcium levels in the body need to be at optimal levels. The
parathyroid needs to stay shut off. And, there are some other
minerals and vitamins needed to ensure that the body uses the
calcium to rebuild bone mass.
These include magnesium, zinc, boron, and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2
is usually produced in the intestines by the natural intestinal
flora. So here again, we can see why people with celiac
disease have a hard time with bone density. K2 is
available in supplement form, and can be used even if you
haven't healed your intestine completely, as long as you don't
have a condition that requires you to be on blood thinners like
coumadin or you don't have sarcoidosis. My husband uses this
D and K supplement
Vitamin D Tests and PTH Tests
How can you find out if this is the cause of your osteoporosis?
You need to ask your doctor, or preferably an endocrinologist,
to test your:
blood calcium level
If these are low, then also the Intact PTH or
(parathyroid hormone). Make sure to get and keep a copy of all
Some doctors will want to run the 1-25-OH-D (calcitriol) because
it measures the amount of active D3 in the body. To get a look
at overall vitamin D status however, this is not helpful. The
half-life is too short. The 25-OH-D measures the D that is
available to the body and has a much longer half life.
Usually it is best to start with a general metabolic panel to
see where your blood calcium is. If it is in the lower end of
the normal range then it will be worthwhile to check for the
vitamin D level. If that is also low, then you can ask for an
Intact PTH and blood calcium test.
If your blood calcium is above 10, then you might want to make
sure you don't have primary hyperparathyroidism.
For best results the PTH sample should be frozen. Hormones
degrade quickly, and this will prevent degradation. The test
can still be run if the sample is not frozen, but then the
result needs to be adjusted for the rate of decay with a
My husband's test results from the lab he had to use due to
insurance varied widely except when the sample was frozen AND
we made sure it was the only blood sample they had for testing
at the time. It took us a long time to figure out what was
happening, and now we insist the sample be frozen and that it
be sent alone.
They can do a calcium test on the blood after it is thawed, and if it's the only sample they have, then they will.
The Test Results
If your blood calcium is low, and the parathyroid test comes
back ambiguous, or at the top of the normal range, you should
be suspicious that it may actually be elevated.
This happened to my husband, and the doctor insisted that his
problem was that his kidneys were leaking calcium.
This type of problem is associated with poor kidney function in
general. My husband was sent to a kidney specialist who tested
his kidneys for their function in several ways. He told my
husband his kidneys were functioning better than most.
So we did not accept the explanation of the kidneys leaking
It was the 4th endocrinologist who finally recognized that his
bone loss had a hormonal pattern. This reinforced our belief
that his elevated parathyroid level was causing the
osteoporosis. His vitamin D dose has since been increased
until it shut down his parathyroid glands. The PTH level must
still be checked periodically to make sure it has stayed shut
My husband's bone mass quit dropping according to the 2008 dexa
scan for bone mass. His last bone density dexa scan (in late
2009) showed not only no further decrease, but an actual
increase in bone density.
This was only possible once the parathyroid glands had shut down.
So if you get an ambiguous result on the parathyroid level, keep
trying to get an answer. Insist that the sample be frozen and
sent alone. Without an accurate result you can't know if this
is the problem or not.
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