Nearly half of patients who go in for orthopedic surgery are seriously deficient in vitamin D, according to a recent study. Being deficient in that vitamin compromised healing.
Maybe if the patients had enough vitamin D to begin with, they wouldn’t have needed surgery in the first place. The D vitamin is essential for bone health and muscle function. It helps the body absorb calcium and can help ward off osteoporosis.
There are three ways we can get enough vitamin D: exposure to the sun, eating certain foods and taking supplements. Most foods don’t have a lot of the vitamin, but these do in varying amounts: fortified orange juice, many types of fish, eggs and dairy products, and some cereals.
Sunlight is tricky, especially in the winter. According to a fact sheet by the National Institutes of Health, those of us living above the 42nd parallel (approximately above a straight line from Boston to Northern California) likely don’t get enough sunlight from November to February to produce synthesis. Additionally, we seniors can’t synthesize sun-induced vitamin D as well as we once could.
Supplements are tricky, too. The amount of vitamin D needed on a daily basis is apparently up for debate. Different sources quote different amounts needed for bone strength. Too much is as bad as too little.
Best bet: Write down everything you eat for a week, including drinks, and take it to your doctor. Ask if you’re getting enough vitamin D in your diet alone, or if you need a supplement or a diet addition.
If you’re scheduled for surgery, ask your doctor for a vitamin D test first to make sure your levels are in the right range.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to columnreply@ gmail.com.
© 2010 King Features Synd., Inc.