Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered the secret of maximizing the bone-building power of osteoporosis drugs (i.e., bisphosphonates): Make sure you're not deficient in vitamin D!
The researchers studied 210 post-menopausal women (mean age 66) with low bone density who had been given bisphosphonate for at least 18 months (they took Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, or Zometa). Forty-seven percent of them had a good, bone-building response to the drug; 53 percent didn't.
They found that those with blood levels of vitamin D 33 ng/ml or higher were 4.5 times more likely to be among the responders. Analyzing the data another way, they found that every 1 ng/ml drop in vitamin D levels decreased the likelihood of a positive response to a bisphosphonate by 5 percent.
The level of 33 ng/ml "is higher than that recommended by the Institute of Medicine as adequate for the general population, and many patients have levels well below this, so vitamin D supplementation may need to be higher for this therapeutic outcome," one of the researchers told the press.
You heard right. The Institute of Medicine — that august body of "experts" advising the government on "healthy" intakes of nutrients — continues to assert that vitamin D blood levels of 20 ng/ml are just fine. Maybe … if being bedridden with a hip fracture is your idea of good health.
"The 25(OH)D level needed to maintain a favorable bisphosphonate response is (greater than or equal to) 33 ng/ml." Carmel AS, et al. Osteoporosis International. 2012 Jan 12. [Epub ahead of print]
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.