Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dying for D

A lot of you, it seems, have not yet gotten the memo. All this sun-phobia has caused an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. The latest articles I've seen go by implicate low levels of D as a contribution to non-melanoma skin cancers (thought you were ducking that by avoiding the sun, did you?), bacterial vaginitis(!), and depression. Now this from the Archives of Internal Medicine:

Researchers sorted through the mountain of data generated by the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looking at D levels as compared to the incidence of dropping dead in some 13,000 participants followed from 1988 through 1994.

Those participants with D levels lower than 17.8 ng/ml (and at least half my patients test into this range!) had a 26% increased risk of dying compared to those more D-endowed. The likelihood of being D-ficient was higher in those who were older, female, nonwhite race (darker skin is not as efficient at producing D when exposed to sunshine), diabetic, smokers, overweight, and in those who did not take D supplements. I have found many who rely on the D added to dairy products or calcium supplements and/or the D in multivitamins are also often deficient.

Take D. Take it everyday. Get a little sunshine on your unsunblocked self.
Melamed, ML, et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of Mortality in the general population. Arch Int Med. 2008; 168(15):1629-1637.


dorsey said...

I take 1000 morning and night but have 2 thousand in mind as an upper limit, is more better? should I cut back for summer?

Ruth said...

I take 1000 a day thanks to you, and wish this information was incorporated into geriatric practice more often.

Midlife Midwife said...

Just started testing my patients. Vitamin D is also good for pregnant moms as well. Decreases risks for them too! Who knew?

Dreaming again said...

My levels have gotten very low. (the whys are multiple)

it got as low as 4 (when it should be 50) and my doc finally convinced me to shell out the $$ to get the Rx form.

What I've noticed the most ...decrease in muscle pain! Significant decrease in muscle pain.

After 3 months on Drisdol (50,000 of Vit D) two times a week ... I'm up to a grand total of 25. Still 25 below where doc wants it. But enough difference that I know it's necessary.

While I do use sunscreen, I get enough of a tan from sun that it can't be a lack of sun exposure that's caused it ... go figure.

Mauigirl said...

I take a multivitamin with D and I also am not all that assiduous about applying sunscreen (didn't use it at all on vacation). I don't burn easily so am not at much risk of skin cancer compared to some folks I guess. I hope I have found a happy medium.

I do wear makeup most of the time with SPF 15 in it but nothing on my forearms in the summer.