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Q: Do I need more vitamin D intake during winter months?

Posted December 19, 2012 in Advice Column, Downtown

A: Vitamin D is important for proper muscular function, regulating calcium and phosphorous levels in the body and most commonly to promote bone health in all ages. Vitamin D has two ways that it enters our bodies. Dietary vitamin D can be found in fortified foods such as ready-to-eat cereals, fortified milk and orange juice and egg yolks. Our skin also makes vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

Most Americans do not get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D in their diets, and it is often necessary to take a vitamin D tablet to reach recommended daily amounts. The amount and quality of sunlight exposure that our skin gets decreases as we spend less time outdoors during winter months. Additionally, Iowa is located far enough north that the quality of the sunlight we get during winter months does not allow our skin to produce adequate levels of vitamin D. These factors could lead to decreased bone health, increased fracture risk and other health complications.

What should you do? Talk to your physician about taking a vitamin D tablet, and ask him or her to test your blood levels during your next office appointment. Visit your local pharmacy, and talk to your pharmacist about vitamin D supplements you can take on a daily basis. Finally, look for vitamin D fortified foods to include in your diet the next time you are at the grocery store.

Written by Curt Orchard, PharmD Candidate 2012 Drake University, provided by Hammer Pharmacy, 600 E. Grand Ave., East Village, 243-4177.

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