Why I check Vitamin D levels on my patients:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced by the body in response to skin exposure to sunlight. It is also found in some foods such as fortified dairy, some fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, and some grains.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones to prevent Osteoporosis. It helps the body utilize calcium from our diets. In the past, Vitamin D deficiency was associated with a disease known as rickets which involved deformities of the skeleton due to soft bones. However, now many foods are fortified with Vitamin D to prevent such severe nutritional issues or do they?
Latest research has discovered more reasons why Vitamin D is such an important vitamin. Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, cognitive impairment in adults, severe asthma in children, increased risks of cancers and infections.
In my practice, I routinely check my patients for Vitamin D levels and find a surprising number of Vitamin D deficiency. Many doctors assume that we live in a state with more than 300 days of sunshine a year so, they don’t feel the need to test for it. It is an expensive test that is not usually covered by Medicare. We walk to our cars and get enough sunlight to catch a tan or sunburn. So, why do we have a Vitamin D deficiency in Arizona?
Even though we have plenty of sunshine and fortified dairy products, many patients stay out of the sun, wear sunblock, and are drinking soy, coconut, or almond milk instead of dairy, eating a diet low in Vitamin D, or are taking medications that can deplete the Vitamin D stores in the body. Darker skin can also predispose a person to increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
Before you go to the drug store and start popping a supplement of Vitamin D, ask your physician to check your levels. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it sticks around in your fat cells. You can actually become toxic if you have too much of it. We do not know all of the effects Vitamin D toxicity can have on the body yet.
As part of a routine physical exam at Modern Family Medicine, we screen for Vitamin D deficiency. We have inexpensive ways to do this even for Medicare patients. So, we welcome you to establish care at our new facility where Dr. Elissa Gartenberg, a Mayo Clinic trained family physician, provides both traditional medicine and holistic care. Call 602-363-1631 to schedule your appointment or go online at www.modernfamilymedicine.com.
-Elissa B. Gartenberg, D.O.