Drugs Used to Improve Bone Density May Actually Increase Risk of Fractures

June 30, 2010

Bisphosphonates are a class of drugs commonly used to treat osteoporosis, and include alendronate, etidronate, risedronate, and zoledronic acid. Bisphosphonates are designed to slow or stop the bone loss that occurs during the body’s natural process that involves removal and replacement of bone tissue. In March 2010, at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, reports suggested that if bisphosphonates are used for four or more years, they may actually impair bone quality and increase the risk of certain bone fractures. Two separate studies by researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and Columbia University Medical Center revealed data suggesting that long-term suppression of bone remodeling with bisphosphonates may alter the material properties of bone, potentially resulting in brittle bone and contributing to the risk of atypical fractures. Ask our pharmacist about other ways to improve bone density and treat osteoporosis.

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Vitamin D

June 28, 2010

Historically vitamin D has been recommended primarily to promote calcium absorption. While this is still a very important role that vitamin D plays, research suggests that vitamin D provides many additional health benefits.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to, not only poor bone health, but also to muscle weakness, non-specific musculoskeletal pain, aggravation of autoimmune diseases, decreased cognitive function, and increased risk of heart disease. Additionally, evidence suggests that healthy vitamin D levels decrease the risk of certain types of cancer and can improve survivor rate after most types of cancer.

Vitamin D is primarily obtained through exposure to sunlight, but increased exposure to sunlight may not be the best course of action to fight vitamin D deficiency. Increased exposure to sunlight may increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer. There are very few foods in which vitamin D occurs naturally so it may be difficult to maintian healthy levels of vitamin D by diet alone. The Institute of Medicine recommends that children and adults up to age 50 receive 200 IU vitamin D per day, adults 51-70 years should receive 400 IU vitamin D per day, and adults over 71 years should receive 600 IU vitamin D per day.

If you have questions or concerns about your vitamin D intake consult your doctor and pharmacist.

You can find a selection of vitamin D products in our Vitamins section.