Many people are unaware of the implications that low vitamin D levels can have on foot and ankle injuries, fractures, and stress fractures. Vitamin D is very important for calcium metabolism, and a lack of vitamin D can lead to decreased calcium absorption, decreased phosphate absorption, and an increase in parathyroid hormone levels – all of which can contribute to osteopenia or osteoporosis. If you are someone who has experienced any foot or ankle injuries, it is important to get your vitamin D levels checked so that you can take the necessary steps to avoid further complications down the road.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It can also be produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus – two minerals that are essential for bone health. When vitamin D levels are low, there is an increased release of a hormone called parathyroid hormone into the bloodstream. The purpose of this is the body’s attempt to increase calcium levels. Unfortunately, calcium is derived from your bones and this can lead to decreased bone quality and density which is also known as osteopenia or osteoporosis if it is more significant.
What is the difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3?
Vitamin D is unique among vitamins in that it can be synthesized by the body, but it still must be obtained through diet and supplementation. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the naturally occurring form of the vitamin and is found in animal-based food sources. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is a synthetic form of the vitamin that is often added to plant-based foods. Both forms of the vitamin are metabolized in the liver and converted into an active form that helps to regulate calcium levels in the blood. However, vitamin D3 is more efficiently absorbed by the body and has a longer shelf life than vitamin D2. As a result, it is generally considered to be the superior form of the vitamin.
Patient risk factors for low vitamin D
Some common medical conditions can predispose an individual to have low vitamin D levels. This includes smoking, obesity, decreased sunlight exposure, age, medications like steroids, renal failure, and gastrointestinal absorption syndromes.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D has many benefits beyond just bone health. It also helps improve muscle function, boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, reduces falls, and lowers blood pressure. Getting enough vitamin D can also help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
Most people need between 600-800 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day. However, this amount may need to be increased for those who have darker skin or limited sun exposure. People over the age of 60 may also need more vitamin D than younger adults because they are not able to synthesize it as efficiently. In the setting of a bony injury, it would be prudent to check the level of vitamin D in the blood with a blood test. With this information, it can be determined what dose of vitamin D would be necessary to correct the levels and optimize healing.
Foods Rich in Vitamin D
Some good sources of dietary vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna or salmon, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and fortified foods such as milk or orange juice. You can also get small amounts of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Just make sure to limit your sun exposure to avoid skin damage.
If you have suffered any foot or ankle injuries, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting your vitamin D levels checked. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased calcium absorption, decreased phosphate absorption, and an increase in parathyroid hormone levels – all of which can contribute to osteopenia or osteoporosis. Getting enough vitamin D is essential for bone health, but it also has many other benefits such as reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. Talk to your doctor today about ways that you can increase your intake of this important nutrient!