Good Day, Sunshine

by Teresa Rhoades

I have to admit this, I have always hated getting bad grades and worked hard to avoid failing any tests. So, imagine my consternation when my doctor informed me that I had scored poorly on my 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Apparently, my result was 17 when the standard range is 30-100. (Source: KP test results)

The idea of a vitamin D deficiency was quite new to me, aside from what I remember from elementary school regarding rickets. Of course after receiving instructions from my doctor and filling my prescription for vitamin D supplements, I proceeded to seek out more information about Vitamin D in addition to what had already been provided to me from the KP Health Encyclopedia.

My first destination was Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. According to Medline Plus, “the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body.” After perusing the first part of the Medline Plus article, a link was provided to a fact sheet. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Those who get too little of the vitamin may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children (I guess my memory served me right) and osteomalacia in adults.

According to an article by the Harvard School of Public Health, laboratory studies show that aside from the benefits mentioned previously, vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, can increase muscle strength and reduce falls in older people, and plays a critical role in controlling infections. With regard to the sources, vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the body also manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol, through a process triggered by the action of sunlight on skin. Since few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamin supplements.

I also went to the Mayo Clinic to look up additional information. This excellent article reminded me that, health information provided is not to be interpreted as specific medical advice and as always, talk to your healthcare provider. Speaking of healthcare provider, my doctor also did suggest that I exercise outdoors more. With that in mind, I am going to step away from the computer and take my dog for a walk.

Teresa Rhoades worked at the Central Branch from 2004-2005. During the next two years, she moved out of state and completed a degree in Library & Information Studies. She is currently the Assistant Branch Manager for the East Columbia Branch. She spends much of her spare time being walked by her dog, an extremely energetic German Short-haired pointer.

2 Comments

  1. What’s more is that Vitamin-D deficiency (along with calcium levels) have been linked to numerous diseases, including cancer. Around the time I was diagnosed one of the items they reviewed was my Vitamin-D. My result was 6! Great article!
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/vitamin-D

    • You are right, JP! Dr. Minford at HCGH has given many talks about the importance of Vitamin D and especially sunshine Vitamin D!

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