Vitamin D can help with bone density and immunity

The People's Pharmacy

I am 62 years old and just had my second bone-density test. I was told I have osteopenia and should take Boniva.

I have been lactose-intolerant, so I avoid dairy products. I have tried calcium, but it makes me constipated. I took Actonel but developed leg cramps. I took one Boniva tablet the nurse gave me as a sample, but I now have unbearable indigestion. Is there anything natural I can take?

Osteopenia is a controversial condition. The concept of pre-osteoporosis was created somewhat arbitrarily in 1992 for research purposes rather than to guide treatment. Extra vitamin D (2,000 to 4,000 IUs daily), exercise and lots of fruits and vegetables can help. There are also other medicines.


I used to catch lots of colds every year. When I was tested for vitamin D a few years ago, it was really low. I took a lot of vitamin D to get into the normal range. Since then, I’ve had only two colds.

Research shows that vitamin D is extremely important for the immune system. It helps to regulate T cells, which are important immune actors. It also turns on the gene that produces cathelicidin, a natural antimicrobial compound that fights infection (Future Microbiology, November 2009).

Because many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D because we stay out of the sun, recommendations for supplementary vitamin D may rise beyond the current RDA of 400 IU daily. Many experts believe vitamin D intake should be five to 10 times higher than that.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition.