Dr Ellie on why people should be taking Vitamin D supplements

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The factors contributing to vitamin deficiency are broad, but the main culprits are poor food choices and malabsorption of nutrients. Because vitamin D plays a central role in the health of the skeleton and skeletal muscles the body fares poorly with insufficient amounts. Researchers, therefore, encourage a higher index of suspicion of a patient presenting with muscle pain so that the condition can be correctly diagnosed.

One of the ongoing issues surrounding the diagnosis of vitamin deficiency is the dramatic presentation of symptoms.

The journal EMJ review, however, suggests a high index of suspicion in vulnerable patients should help circumvent this problem.

To highlight the broad spectrum of vitamin D deficiency symptoms, the health body presents three cases of severe myopathy in deficient patients.

The first of the articles presents a case scenario of a patient presenting with proximal myopathy and clinical confusion or other malignancies “that can lead to disastrous consequences”.

The review states: “A 60-year-old female entrepreneur of Indian descent presented with an inability to raise herself from bed for one month.

“She had been bedridden and required the assistance of two people to perform her activities and daily living.

“Her problems started eight months earlier, with difficulty climbing stairs and became progressively worse, forcing her to shift her office to the ground level.

“There was no improvement after two months and she was finding it difficult to rise from her change.”

During questioning, a health examiner noted that the patient had not received sunshine for almost a year, but was well nourished.

Test results revealing a severe deficiency in vitamin D eventually led to her being diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism due to vitamin D deficiency.

The patient was treated with intramuscular injections of vitamin D and calcium tablets which she took daily. She was also told to increase her dietary calcium.

This produced notable changes in her strength which gradually enabled her to get out of bed without assistance.

How to prevent vitamin D deficiency

Although nutrients are present at varying degrees in different foods, the average diet does not always meet daily needs.

What’s more, in countries where sunlight is scarce, a greater part of the population is expected to be deficient in vitamin D.

This is because the nutrient is produced in the skin through the action of sunlight.

According to the NHS, some good sources of vitamin D are:

  • Oily fish
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Egg Yolks
  • Fortified foods.

Where dietary sources of vitamin D are unable to sustain needs, supplements may be necessary during the winter months.

Although vitamin D supplements are available without prescriptions, individuals are advised to consult a doctor before taking them.

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