When you think of vitamin D, the sun is probably what comes to mind, but doctors say vitamin D deficiency can be caused by other factors. “Really, vitamin D deficiency comes in two ways in America. Mostly one is if you have some sort of malabsorption diseases, such as Celiac disease or Crohn’s Disease, or some sort of other diseases where you’re not able to absorb nutrients from your food. The other way is certainly sunlight exposure or lack of,” explained Dr. Damian Hanekom, a family medicine physician with Lee Health.
Using a blood test, doctors can determine if a patient has a deficiency. Anything under 30 is considered vitamin D deficient. “We know that vitamin D plays an important role, particularly in children’s bone development, and there’s a lot of evidence that shows it does aid in bone health as we age,” he said.
When patients are vitamin D deficient, doctors typically recommend a temporary supplement. “Most people, if they are not able to get it through their diet, then we do recommend a short period, sometimes two to three months of supplementation to bring their vitamin D levels up,” Dr. Hanekom said.
Increasing foods like orange juice, egg yolks, soy milk, and salmon can also help to improve your vitamin D levels. “Sometimes I will recommend they spend a little more time outside, but with the risk of skin cancer and sun exposure, that’s something that we do want to do in moderation,” he said.
If supplements and diet changes don’t improve your vitamin D, it could indicate a problem with your kidneys or digestive system, making it important to monitor your numbers.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.