Nutrition & Dieting/Astronaut health

Advertisement


Question
I don't know if your the person to ask this question, but I'll give it a shot.  As I understand it, the majority of our vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun.  How, when the astronauts aboard the International Space Station are never exposed to the sun, are said astronauts supplemented their vitamin D needs. Is is just added to their diets or do they take vitamin pills like we do on Earth?  Also, could there be any correlation to possible vitamin D deficiency accelerating bone loss from zero gravity? If your not the person for this question, please forward it to the proper expert.

Answer
Hello, this is an interesting question.  I will do my best to answer the question based on my area of expertise. My background is not in space science so you may want to consider passing your question along to an expert in this field for additional information.

You are correct that Astronauts need to have their diets carefully monitored and Vitamin D must be consumed by dietary sources. Based on the research, it seems that weightlessness during a flight to space does accelerate calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K deficiencies. It may be that the bone lost in space is never fully replaced once the Astronauts return to Earth. In some cases, bone loss has been fully restored after spending time back on Earth.  

A high calcium intake and vitamin D supplementation during space flight does not affect bone metabolism but it does prevent an elevation of the serum calcium level.  Whether or not the calcium is taken in from foods or through supplementation is not specified but I would expect that RDI's for all nutrients are taken into account when preparing for space exploration.

Hope this helps you out.  

Nutrition & Dieting

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Stacy Ostrager, M.A.,M.S.

Expertise

I am qualified to answer your questions on nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, disease management,obesity and obesity related issues. I am experienced with nutrition aspect of managing the following: Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, pregnancy, allergies, IBS, diabetes, heart disease, fitness, wellness, healthy cooking, and many more.

Experience

Over 20 years in premier hospitals, consulting and private counseling practice for nutrition.

Organizations
New York State Dietetic Association, Long Island Dietetic Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Center for Science of Public Interest

Education/Credentials
Masters of Healthcare Administration from Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.) 1999 Masters of Science in Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University (Ypslanti, M.I.) 2012 Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y) 1994

Past/Present Clients
NYU Medical Center, Long Island Jewish Medical Center

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.