Vitamin D Deficiency and Your Health

Eleanor Kurtz, MD

Vitamin D and the many possible effects of low vitamin D levels have garnered quite a bit of attention in the past decade. Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins that our bodies require to operate normally.  It plays a role in bone health, regulating calcium levels, and is an essential part of muscle function.

When vitamin D levels aren’t adequate in our growing years, a condition called Rickets develops. Children with Rickets display abnormal growth, delayed development of motor skills and pain because their bones do not have the building blocks they need to form correctly. In adults, inadequate levels of vitamin D can lead to a condition called osteomalacia that can lead to generalized muscle and bone pain, difficulty walking and weakened bones that are more prone to fracture. In the past decade, several other problems have been attributed to low vitamin D levels, including fatigue, weight gain, depression, and worsening diabetes.

Normally our bodies are able to make most of the vitamin D we need in our skin, a process that requires the UV spectrum light found in sunlight.  There are a lot of factors that impact how much sunlight an individual needs to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, including age, obesity, and skin tone. Darker skin tones tend to decrease vitamin D production in the skin.  Lifestyle, medical disabilities and the amount, intensity and duration of sunlight you receive in your particular geographic location will also impact the amount of UV exposure an individual receives.  Many foods have been vitamin D fortified so that we don’t have to rely entirely on our own body’s ability to make vitamin D, but sometimes additional supplementation is required.

A simple blood test can determine whether your level of vitamin D is adequate.  If it is low, your physician may recommend a prescription strength vitamin D supplement until your level returns to the normal range.

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About Dr. Eleanor Kurtz
Eleanor Kurtz, MD, of Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach, is an internal medicine physician who earned her medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio. She completed an internship, as well as a residency in internal medicine, at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. A diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Kurtz is a member of the American Medical Association and American College of Physicians. She has a special interest in wound care. Read more blog posts by Dr. Kurtz!

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kurtz in Virginia Beach please call (757) 305-1797!

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