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ARE YOU TAKING YOUR VITAMIN...D?

Odler Robert Jeanlouie, MD If I were you, I would. Indeed, the last decade has seen a flurry of research on vitamin D, and the results have been for the least puzzling, at times simply stunning. Everyone knows that vitamin D deficiency causes weak bones. How does that happen? Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Calcium, in combination with phosphorus, creates the hard-mineral matrix of the bones. Poor availability of Vitamin D begets a poorly calcified bone matrix, prone to malformation and fracture. Children end up with a deformed skeleton (rickets). Adults suffer from "easy" and frequent fractures (osteopenia, osteoporosis).

Nowadays, more is known about Vitamin D. Its deficiency is associated with a decrease in reaction time (poor reflex), hence inability to prevent a fall. Therefore, when you are vitamin D deficient, you are more likely to fall, and you are more likely to break your bone when you fall.

Beside bone diseases, the lack of vitamin D is also associated with multiple other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, depression, and seventeen kinds of cancer.

We are not saying that vitamin D deficiency causes all these diseases, we are not saying the contrary either. We only know that they walk hand in hand. Therefore, it is indicated that all adults and children ensure that they go around with an adequate amount of vitamin D in their bodies.

Now the big question is: What level is adequate? Ask your doctor to do the blood test for you to measure the level. The level of vitamin D is measured in International Units (IU). A level of 30-50 IU is preferred. Below 30 IU, you need supplementation. Above 130, your level is too high, you may be at risk for toxicity.

We will leave you with the three most common questions that are posed to us:

(1) Why are people deficient in vitamin D?

(a) Because they don't consume enough foodstuff rich in vitamin D: mostly fish.

(b) Or because they do not spend enough time on the sun whose rays activate vitamin D in the skin. As a corollary, black people are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency.

(2) How much vitamin D should I take if my level is less than 30?

The over the counter vitamin D pills usually contain 400 IU. It is recommended that you take at least 2,000 IU, just for maintenance of your blood level. If your level is below 30, you need a  daily dose of 4,000 IU or more, sometimes up to 10,000, along with quarterly monitoring of the level. Inasmuch, you need a doctor's prescription and supervision...

(3) What do I feel when my vitamin D level is low?

Fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, chronic low back pain, weight gain, difficulty to lose weight, poor energy level, poor sleep pattern, poor concentration, headaches, constipation.... among others. 

Have you experienced any of these symptoms lately?

(OdlerRobert Jeanlouie, Thursday, May 30, 2013)

Dr Odler Jeanlouie, Hypertention Clinic in West Orange, NJ

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