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Bone-Building Drug Is 5 Times More Effective with Vitamin D


While the efficacy of bone building drugs remain in question, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered one potential 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 treated with a 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% 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%.

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]

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One response to “Bone-Building Drug Is 5 Times More Effective with Vitamin D”

  1. Goldie says:

    Bisphosphonates are poison. They don’t build bones.  They make bones more vulnerable to be broken.  Plus, they have some deadly side-effects.  Turn a deaf ear on any doctor who prescribes bisphophonates.