News and Events
Everyone Needs a Little D in Their Life: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is commonly associated with the building of strong
bones, but that is not the only reason it is so important. It is a
critical human need for optimizing many body systems.
"Vitamin D is so important to the body because it
influences the functioning of more than 200 genes. Thus, it is
vital for many systems not just the well-known bone
building," said Boyd Hoddinott, M.D., a family physician in
Your body needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth in
childhood and adolescence. As an adult, you need vitamin D and
calcium to maintain bone mass. This helps prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D also helps your body keep the right amount of calcium and
phosphorus in your blood.
The amount of vitamin D your body needs can vary depending on
your weight, your genetic makeup, your skin color, whether you have
any chronic conditions and even where you live.
Many people do not get enough vitamin D in their diets. Adults
who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for osteomalacia
(muscle weakness and weak bones) and osteoporosis (thin bones).
Children who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for
"It has been known for a century that very low vitamin D caused
the bone disease rickets. More recently, we have learned that all
the calcium and drugs in the world will not prevent or adequately
treat osteoporosis unless you have adequate vitamin D on board,"
said Hoddinott. "And, now we are beginning to understand the
importance of 'D' in muscle function and in preventing
diseases other than rickets including; autoimmune, infectious,
bone, muscle and cardiovascular diseases, and cancer."
Foods that naturally contain vitamin D include fish, eggs,
cheese and butter. There are also vitamin D-fortified foods, such
as milk and milk alternatives, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D supplements are also available over the counter and by
"In five years of testing patients, I have never seen vitamin D
toxicity. Clearly, everyone should take vitamin D supplements. It
is probably not possible to get enough vitamin D in your diet
without supplementing, no matter how much oily seafood you eat,"
It is important to talk to your family physician if you think
that you may not be getting enough vitamin D. They will ask you
about your diet and your exposure to sunlight, as well as any other
risk factors that you may have. Your family physician may also
suggest testing your vitamin D level to help you decide if a
supplement is needed.
According to Hoddinott, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most
important public health issues. It is an important issue and should
be monitored in patients. So, remember to talk to your family
physician about getting an adequate amount of vitamin D.
The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians is a statewide
professional association with more than 4,000 members, including
practicing physicians, family medicine residents and medical
students. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages, both
sexes and every disease entity. Family physicians provide
comprehensive, continuing care to all members of the