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Vitamin D Low in Women with Osteoporosis

More than half of women currently treated for osteoporosis have suboptimal levels of vitamin D, according to new research presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research meeting in Seattle in early October. Study results showed that despite routine physician recommendations that women diagnosed and treated for osteoporosis take over-the-counter vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D inadequacy is still highly prevalent in this population. The National Osteoporosis Foundation advises getting recommended daily amounts of vitamin D and calcium as one of the five steps involved in bone health and osteoporosis prevention.

More than 10 million people in the United States are estimated to have osteoporosis and 80 percent are women. Vitamin D, an essential component of osteoporosis therapy, helps ensure that the body absorbs and retains calcium and phosphorus, both critical for building bone.

"While women may know that calcium is an important part of bone health, this research shows that some women on treatment for osteoporosis are unaware of the important role vitamin D plays or are simply not getting adequate amounts as part of their treatment regimen," said Ethel Siris, M.D., Madeline C. Stabile Professor of Clinical Medicine at P&S and director of the Toni Stabile Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. "Getting enough vitamin D, whether through supplements, proper food choices or appropriate and careful exposure to sunlight, is vital to managing osteoporosis."

The study showed that prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy was significantly higher in women who took less than 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D supplementation daily compared with those who took at least 400 IU or more daily (63 percent versus 45 percent, respectively).

Funding for this study was provided by Merck and Co. Inc.

New Mechanism Found for Fat and Alzheimer's Link

A new report has uncovered another way dietary fat may increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's, making too much fat a double whammy for the brain's cells.

"It's a new way of looking at Alzheimer's disease and it opens up a whole new way to approach the disease therapeutically," says the study's senior author, Neil Shachter. M.D., professor of medicine. The research was published Sept. 15 in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Though the connection between dietary fat and Alzheimer's disease initially took researchers by surprise, it's now so accepted that clinical trials are testing whether statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, can prevent or slow the disease.

The rationale behind the trials comes from studies that show that cholesterol increases the amount of beta-amyloid, the molecule most researchers believe is the primary culprit in the disease.

In the new research, Dr. Shachter found that another component of dietary fat, triglycerides, also increases the amount of beta-amyloid inside cells, but in a different way than cholesterol.

Using cultured hamster cells, Dr. Shachter found that triglycerides increase the amount of a molecule called presenilin, which assists in beta-amyloid production. A worldwide research effort to understand how to limit the activity of presenilin is already under way, Dr. Shachter says. He suggests his new findings may lead to a more effective treatment that completely rids the cell of excess presenilin.

This research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the NIH and the Roth Foundation.