Women are less protected. Osteoporosis is the number one bone disease for the adults! More than 40 million adults in the United States have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue that increases bone fragility and significantly increases the risk of bone fractures. Women should consult their healthcare providers about their needs for vitamin D (and calcium) as part of an overall plan to prevent or treat osteoporosis.
We need both calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation alone appears to have no effect on risk reduction for fractures nor does it appear to reduce falls among the elderly. Osteoporosis is most often associated with inadequate calcium intakes, but insufficient vitamin D contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption. Although rickets and osteomalacia are extreme examples of the effects of vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis is an example of a long-term effect of calcium and vitamin D insufficiency. Adequate storage levels of vitamin D maintain bone strength and might help prevent osteoporosis in older adults, non-ambulatory individuals who have difficulty exercising, postmenopausal women, and individuals on chronic steroid therapy. Most supplementation trials of the effects of vitamin D on bone health also include calcium, so it is difficult to isolate the effects of each nutrient. Among postmenopausal women and older men, supplements of both vitamin D and calcium result in small increases in bone mineral density throughout the skeleton. They also help to reduce fractures in institutionalized older populations, although the benefit is inconsistent in community-dwelling individuals.
Hormone therapy plus calcium and vitamin D. Normal bone is constantly being remodeled. During menopause, the balance between these processes changes, resulting in more bone being resorbed than rebuilt. Hormone therapy with estrogen and progesterone might be able to delay the onset of osteoporosis. However, some medical groups and professional societies recommend that postmenopausal women consider using other agents to slow or stop bone resorption because of the potential adverse health effects of hormone therapy. Hormone therapy alone is not enough, you need to have supplements of calcium and vitamin D.