The has been a lot of interest recently in the therapeutic benefits of Vitamin D. This interest follows the realization that many adults, especially in northern climates, are D deficient, generally in the winter where there is less sun exposure. With this interest comes a lot of hype, or purported benefits that have little clinical support. It is therefore important to first determine if there is a deficient state, usually with a lab test, and then to treat specific symptoms that may be due to D deficiency with the appropriate therapy.
Humans typically obtain 90 percent of Vitamin D from sunlight. Dietary sources, including fortified milk and cereal as well as egg yolk and fish, have limited amounts of the vitamin, and supplementation with D3 is generally necessary to keep children and adults within normal ranges. The currently recommended Vitamin D levels for children and adults up to 50 years of age is 400 IU (or “International Units”) per day, and for older adults 600 IU per day. However, lab verified deficiency states may require much higher doses, usually for a short period of time and under the supervision of a physician in order to avoid the risk of Vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity causes symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting and is a concern for people taking excessive doses, but there is little risk with supplementation of up to 2000 IU/day.
Symptoms that are clearly linked to Vitamin D deficiency include muscle ache and weakness, low back pain, generalized bone discomfort, and increased risk of falls and fractures, especially in older adults. Children can often develop softer bones that become deformed, known as rickets. Although the data is preliminary, Vitamin D deficiency may also increase the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and depression as well as contribute to decreased mental function (click here to read more about other ways to combat depression/anxiety).
If you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, you may benefit from a Vitamin D supplement regimen. Contact your physician to schedule an appointment for consultation and evaluation. If you are a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care, give us a call at 208-772-5204 to set up an appointment with Dr. Samuel. If you are interested in becoming a member of our practice, you can click here to find out more.