You Are My Sunshine...Pill

vitamin D with sunshine emanating from pill

Vitamin D is made in your skin from exposure to sunshine. It is the only vitamin which is almost impossible to get by just eating a healthy diet, because it is not found in significant amounts in most foods unless it is added in, such as in vitamin D fortified milk. Low vitamin D is common in America, and more common in dark skinned people, people who stay indoors and obese people.  Very low vitamin D causes bone softening (osteomalacia in adults and rickets in kids) and deep bone pain.  Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to fractures, cancers, heart disease, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, infections and even autoimmune disease. I advise all my patients to “test or treat” vitamin D. Either check your blood level of vitamin D to be sure you have a healthy level, or just add a 25mcg (1000 IU) capsule of vitamin D3 daily, or do both!  Taking vitamin D is especially important in the winter, but easiest to remember if you do it year-round, and vitamin D is stored in fat, so you can save up for the winter. One last reason to consider a "sunshine pill," is that vitamin D in a pill won't cause skin damage like the sun can.

Also remember that you need calcium for good bone health along with the vitamin D. Lots of foods contain some calcium, but the best source is dairy products. Many adults are lactose intolerant, so they can’t get the 2-3 servings a day of dairy that are recommended to meet their calcium needs. Fake dairy (like almond milk) is a good solution, but many people may choose to take a calcium pill. If a person takes a strong stomach acid pill (such as omeprazole) the calcium pill must be calcium CITRATE, since regular calcium requires stomach acid to digest. Calcium should not be taken at the same time as a daily vitamin or any important medicines since the body can only use about 500mg at a time of calcium, and because calcium can decrease the absorption of other medicines.

Dr. Chastanet hiking in the Grand Canyon Rachel Chastanet MD Dr. Chastanet is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Obesity Medicine. She practices at Chesapeake Weight Loss & Aesthetics in Chesapeake, VA.

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