Low Vitamin D: Are Your Bones At Risk?
August 3, 2017
The Need for Vitamin “D”:
Vitamin D has been a hot button topic for years now. Why is it so important? Why do so many people have low levels and what are the implications of that?
The more we learn, it has become apparent the importance of this metabolite. Low “D” has been implicated in conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis. In fact, milk and other products were mandated fortification with vitamin D in the 1930’s due to rickets and the associated bone malformations observed in children. Besides consumption of dairy and now some orange juice, some fish obtain high levels of the vitamin.
The requirement of vitamin D in the diet comes from the decreased sun exposure that nearly all of us see. Whether you blame increased work of adults or video games in children, less outside activity is prevalent. In addition, dermatology places strong emphasis now on protection from skin cancers and melanoma through the use of sun block. The prevention of ultraviolet sun exposure to skin also prevents the activation of the metabolite.
Can Low “D” Cause Injury?
Beyond rickets (which is rare today with fortified products) and osteoporosis, vitamin D is associated with increased chance of injury. Recently a common fracture to the 5th metatarsal called a Jones fracture was recently found to be five times more likely in patients with low levels of “D”. There is also a suggestion that “bone edema” or bruising of bones is associated with low vitamin D levels. This suggests that elevating a low level of the metabolite may prevent some of these fractures. Therefore replenishment has been suggested to be appropriate is most cases if detected.
A normal vitamin D has been determined to be above 30ng/mL. Low vitamin D is highly prevalent in latitudes above 30 degrees (North of Jacksonville, Florida). So, chances are you have low levels! Before every surgery involving bone, I check a patient’s vitamin D level to ensure there is a minimal chance this will effect outcomes. Next time your doctor requests blood work, it may be worth checking…
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