Let’s Get Hip to Proper Supplementation and Avoid Hip FracturesSupplements
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Learning what nutrients you need and the amounts can be overwhelming and confusing. To give you some basics, there are six essential nutrients you need to stay healthy. These nutrients are water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In addition, there are 16 essential minerals and 13 essential vitamins we all need for our bodies to function properly and stay healthy.
And the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the “average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people,” according to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements.
For example, the RDA of vitamin C for a healthy female 19 years or older is 75 mg.
But more often than not, it’s more complicated than just figuring out the RDA.
There are a variety of reasons why people may have to take more than the RDA or supplement. These include older age, existing health issues, medications or pregnancy. All these variables may make it necessary for us to deviate from the RDA and take more or less of certain nutrients.
According to recent data, three-quarters of Americans take dietary supplements. And while it’s great that supplements are readily accessible to us all (you don’t need a prescription and can purchase at your local grocery or health food store), it is extremely important to know exactly what your body needs before implementing supplementation into your proactive healthcare routine. Not all supplements are created equal, so it is always a good idea to get recommendations from a competent healthcare professional.
If you do not supplement properly, you can actually do more harm than good to your body.
There is evidence of this from a recent study which found that postmenopausal women who had a high intake (as in more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance) of both vitamins B6 and B12 had an increased risk for hip fractures by almost 50 percent compared to postmenopausal women whose intake of these vitamins was low. Many of the women who had a high intake were taking supplements.
"The RDAs are established to meet the nutritional requirements of almost the entire population. Despite that, use of high-dose vitamin supplementation far exceeding the RDAs is common, often without any definite indication and in the absence of clear evidence of benefit," wrote one of the lead researchers, referenced in this report discussing the study.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year more than 300,000 older people (those that are 65 and older) are hospitalized for hip fractures. And more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling. Furthermore, women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures. Women fall more often than men, and osteoporosis (which causes brittle, weak bones) is also more common in women.
The study could not give a definitive reason as to why a higher intake of both vitamin B6 and B12 appeared to significantly increase the risk of hip fractures among the women involved in the study, however, it is possible that overdosing on this vitamin may make bones weaker and more prone to breaks when a fall occurs. Clearly, this may be an example of too much of a good thing (essential nutrients we all need) being bad.
Vitamin B12, which I would say is the most popular of the B vitamins, is likely a nutrient you are familiar with. This B vitamin is found mostly in animal foods, including meat, dairy and eggs. It helps our nervous system, prevents anemia, gives us energy and is really a ‘must-have’ as we age.
The RDA for B12 for a healthy man or woman 14 years of age and older is 2.4 mcg. Some of the women in the study had an intake of B12 as high as 30 mcg or even greater.
Vitamin B6 is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions in the body which are mostly concerned with protein metabolism. The RDA for B6 for a healthy man or woman between the ages of 19 to 50 is 1.3 mg. For a woman over the age of 50, the RDA is 1.5 mg. In the study, some women had an intake of B6 as high as 3.6 mg or even greater.
(Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods including chickpeas, salmon, chicken breast, turkey, bananas, nuts, onions, spinach and watermelon).
Test, don’t guess!
The only way to supplement properly is to know what your body needs, and the only way to know what your body needs from a nutritional standpoint is by taking a nutrient test. This test will usually identify whether you have too much or too little of a certain nutrient. If the test reveals you are not nutritionally balanced, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements you can take if need be.
Do not be tempted to self-diagnose nutritional issues and buy the many varieties of supplements flooding the health and wellness aisles of your local grocery and health food stores. Although many of these products are great, there are also many that are not of good quality and are useless. And as you can see, you can overdo it on some nutrients which can be detrimental to our health.
Finally, it is important to seek medical advice before implementing supplementation especially if you have any existing health issues, are taking any medications or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
And for tips on maintaining strong healthy bones so that you can help prevent hip fractures and other breaks, read here.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.