Monday, May 31, 2010

Vitamin D, are you deficient?

Before I begin today's post, I just want to inform you of something new I'm going to add to my blog. Every Monday will be "Motivational Monday!" So at the bottom of every Monday post, you will find a phrase or sentence that gives you another reason to lead a healthy life. My hope is that you will find these to be good reasons to exercise and eat better; and use them to help motivate you through your week (and weekend!). I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have any!!

Recently, there has been a lot of research centering around vitamin D deficiency and how it impacts our health. If you’ve been wondering what the deal is, this will give you a general idea of what is going on and what you should do to make sure you’re not missing out on a vital nutrient!

Vitamin D deficiency is real and affects many Americans. According to the NHANES III study, when men, women, white Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics were evaluated and compared, it was found that the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency was at least 40% for all groups. African Americans in the age group of 20-39 years old had the highest prevalence nearing 100%. White Americans in the same age category had the lowest prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, which was about 40%. (Martins D, et al. Arch Intern Med 2007 June;167:1159-1165)

So why are we having such a problem with vitamin D deficiency? There are many factors to blame. One difference between our culture today and our culture 50 years ago is that we use sunscreen, and a lot of it! I am not saying that is a bad thing! I am no expert on this subject, but I definitely believe that wearing sunscreen is a smart move. Vitamin deficient or not, I want my family’s skin protected! Other factors are air pollution, skin tone, less time spent outside, and poor diet. Many other factors can play into vitamin D deficiency, but they are more specific to some diseases.

Being deficient in vitamin D isn’t just something to fluff off and not worry about. Individuals who are deficient are more likely to die of heart failure or sudden cardiac death. Also, adequate vitamin D is thought to protect against hypertension (high blood pressure).

Ameri P, Ronco D, Casu M, Denegri A, Bovio M, Menoni S, Ferone D, Murialdo G. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with left ventricular dilation: An echocardiography study in elderly patients with chronic heart failure. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2010 Apr 14.)

Pilz S, Tomaschitz A, Drechsler C, Dekker JM, März W. Vitamin D deficiency and myocardial diseases. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Mar 29.

Vitamin D deficiency also increases cancer risk, particularly colon, breast, and prostate. Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, in addition to metabolic disorders are also more likely to occur in those who are deficient. Insulin-dependent diabetes falls into the category of autoimmune diseases.

Peterlik, M., Cross, H.S.. Vitamin D and calcium deficits predispose for multiple chronic diseases. European Jour of Clin Invest, 2005 Apr 28.

Vieth, Bischoff-Ferrari, Boucher, Dawson-Hughes, Garland, Heaney, et al. The urgent need to recommend an intake of vitamin D that is effective. Am J of Clin Nut, 85(3), 643-650: 2007.

The first thing you should do if you have not had your vitamin D level tested is to speak with your doctor. Your serum level of vitamin D can be easily tested and your doctor can then advise you on the next step. Your level may be fine! However, if it is not, you may need to take a supplement in order to achieve a safe level. If your doctor prescribes some time in the sun unprotected, I would encourage you to speak with your dermatologist to get his or her opinion on such a plan. Do not begin taking any kind of supplement without getting your level tested and being advised by a doctor!

Some food sources of vitamin D are wild salmon, canned tuna or mackerel, shitake mushrooms, cod liver oil, and fortified cheeses and milk.

Staying fit gives me the energy I need to play with my children/grandchildren!


  1. Motivational Monday is great! I also like the running picture :)
    Glad to see this post about vitamin D deficiency. It is a very good explanation of why we need to find out our levels (for those who haven't already) and act accordingly. The more we know, the better we can take care of ourselves...and play with our grandchildren!

  2. Thanks for this. Like the Motivational Monday idea. This was very interesting for me, particularly the link with autoimmune disease.

  3. I hear that the vitamin D test is extremely expensive. My gyno told me to take vitamin D. What do you think?

  4. It is difficult to rely on information that you hear from others about the cost of a test. The fact is, everyone's insurance is different. It may not cost you anything. Many general practitioners now test Vitmain D routinely, so my thought is that most people have coverage. Otherwise, this would not be possible. Check with your insurance company and see if they offer it. Personally, I think that getting the test done would be worthwhile before taking the supplement. When you have the test, your doctor can then prescribe an amount appropriate for you.