Vitamin D may reduce health problems

April 17, 2009 11:03:47 AM PDT
Many people are suffering from something they might not be aware of. It affects about a billion people worldwide, yet treating it can be as simple as going outdoors or to a tanning salon. It's a health alert about Vitamin-D deficiency.Darline Yates has had her share of broken bones -- from two hip replacements to a knee replacement and a shattered left leg.

"In May, I fractured my femur and he was checking for osteoporosis and other things that could cause that and he found the vitamin d deficiency," said Darline.

Darline is not alone. It's estimated that a billion people worldwide have Vitamin-D deficiency. We all need Vitamin-D. It promotes calcium and phosphorus absorption. It's also been found to reduce the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancers. But as man has evolved, our vitamin-d levels have tailed off.

"We're Vitamin-D deficient because we were made to be outside," said Chairman Department of Orthopedics, Dr. Kenneth Mathis with Methodist Hospital.

Dr. Mathis says because we spend of our days indoors -- we're missing out on Vitamin-D's benefits.

"So we've been very much afraid of skin cancer to keep us out of the sun but at the cost we may have created an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency, fractures and cancers," said Dr. Mathis.

There are three primary ways to get Vitamin-D.

"Sunlight, oily fish and supplements," said Dr. Mathis.

"But another powerful way, if you're not absorbing it, is to go to a tanning salon and get half of the amount of time that it would take to tan," said Dr. Mathis. "And you get several thousand units of vitamin D through your skin."

And don't take Vitamin-D supplements without first seeing a doctor.

"And say I would like my regular checkup and my regular routine blood work, but I also want you to check my 25-hydroxy Vitamin D level," said Dr. Mathis.

"Please get your Vitamin D checked and see if you have a problem with it and start taking it. It's really simple," said Darline.

Dr. Mathis says half the nation's adolescents are Vitamin-D deficient. And he says darker skinned people especially should be checked because their skin blocks almost 99-percent of the UV-rays coming through

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter


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