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Vitamin D

Updated: Jan 11

In this section Cypress Foot and Ankle Expert Dr. Christopher Correa discusses Vitamin D and how it relates to bone health. Vitamin D has been recognized as being essential in human physiology for decades. Many commonly available foods have small amounts of Vitamin D such as Cod liver oil, trout, salmon, or sardines. In the US however these foods were not plentiful enough to the population at large to prevent deficiencies. This is why the U.S. government began fortifying more commonly available foods during the 1920's as a way to prevent the widespread lack of Vitamin D and other micronutrients. Today you can find vitamin D fortified orange juice, milk, and cereals in most stores across America. In spite of our best efforts however we still seem find scores of people each year with low vitamin D levels. Let's take a closer look at what Vitamin D is and what bone related issues can arise if adequate levels are not maintained.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is essential in regulating your body's ability to absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate which play vital roles in immune and bone health. Humans can synthesize their own vitamin D although they need to receive sufficient sun exposure for this process to happen. In society today with the increased use of sunscreen and increased time spent indoors our capacity to do this has been severely diminished. A person is considered Vitamin D deficient when levels fall below the normally accept rage of 30-100ng/ml. Often times when levels are low there are generally no initial symptoms. As time goes on people who are deficient in Vitamin D often see problems in the skeletal structure including stress fractures, increased risk for "regular" fractures following low level traumatic events, poor or delayed bone healing and in extreme cases rickets. Rickets, (bowing of the legs) is seen in developing children where the lack of vitamin D causes imperfect calcification and softening of the bones leading to bowing over time primarily in the legs. Rickets does not occur in adults. Low Vitamin D leaves your body less able to absorb calcium regardless of how much is available in the gut. The lack of calcium disrupts normal bone metabolism. Once the bone is fractured if the deficiency is not corrected improper bone metabolism continues delaying or inhibiting bone healing.

If you have never had your Vitamin D levels checked, no matter what age you are, it is not a bad idea to ask your doctor at your next visit. You may be at risk for a fracture and not even know it! Making sure you are getting sun and taking in fortified foods are always a good idea, but this alone is not always enough to ward off deficiency. Adding a dietary supplement in the form of a daily multi-vitamin is usually a good idea unless your doctor has directed you otherwise. If you believe you are suffering from a stress fracture, make an appointment with the experts at Select Foot and Ankle Specialists today and take the first step towards recovery!

Man on a beach, fracture, Vitamin D, Sun exposure

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