This Issue

Vitamin D A dose of sunshine goes a long way

The man to see on vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D: The dynamic duo

Where’s the calcium?

So many choices

Who’s at risk?

• African Americans – melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D

• Those with limited exposure to sunlight

• Breastfed infants – mother’s milk does not contain enough vitamin D

• Elderly – less able to convert vitamin D to its active form

• Vegetarians that follow a strict plant-based diet

• People with certain intestinal problems, such as celiac disease

• Obese people – excess fat impedes the circulation of vitamin D

Q & A

A closer look

Who’s at risk?

Want to know the score?

The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test measures the level of vitamin D in the body.

Vitamin D Status





Less than 20 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL)

20 to 29 ng/mL

30 ng/mL or more

The Vitamin D Council recommends a minimum reading of 50 ng/mL

For more information, click here

Links to low levels

Weak bones cause the spine to collapse
National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases

Several studies suggest that normal levels of vitamin D are required to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses, such as:

• Rickets

• Osteomalacia (adult rickets)

• Osteoporosis

• Fractures and falls

• Osteoarthritis

• Bone and muscle pain

• Muscle weakness

• Heart disease

• Heart failure

• Stroke

• Hypertension

• Depression

• Schizophrenia

• Multiple sclerosis

• Asthma

• Flu

• Obesity

• Inflammatory diseases

• Breast cancer

• Colon cancer

• Prostate cancer

• Autoimmune diseases

• Diabetes 1 and 2

• Fibromyalgia

• Chronic fatigue syndrome

• Metabolic syndrome

Links to low levels

So many choices

Calcium can also be obtained through supplements, but the trick is to determine which one. There are many choices — carbonate, citrate, lactate, gluconate. Here are some helpful tips.

• Calcium carbonate contains the most calcium per pill (40 percent), but should be taken after meals.

• Calcium citrate contains less calcium per pill (20 percent), but does not need to be taken with food.

• Determine the amount of “elemental calcium” — the amount available for the body to absorb and what’s counted in the recommended daily dose of calcium. If not specified, check the Nutrition Facts label. The amount of elemental calcium will be listed in milligrams (mg) according to “serving size” — generally one or two tablets.

• Gluconate and lactate contain low content of elemental calcium, and would require several tablets to meet the calcium requirement.

• Avoid dolomite, oyster shell and bone meal calcium. They might contain metals and lead.

• Look for USP (United States Pharmacopeia) symbol on the package, which designates standards for quality and purity.

• If the symbol is not listed, you can test the quality of pill by dissolving it in clear vinegar. Stir occasionally. If the pill dissolves within 30 minutes, it will also dissolve in your stomach.

For more information, click here

Looking for vitamin D?

How to get
your D

Want to know the score?

Where’s the calcium?

Calcium is found in dairy products including yogurt, cheeses and milk; to reduce fat intake try skim milk or low fat products.
Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli are all good sources of calcium. These foods are great in salads, stir-fries or even on their own.

Seafood like sardines, pink salmon, ocean perch, blue crab, clams and rainbow trout can be a tasty way to up your intake.

Select foods, including cereal and orange juice, are often fortified with calcium and can be good sources.


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A closer look

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are common in young people. So much so that rickets, or bone weakness, has made a comeback. Rickets is seen more frequently in black children often due to less time playing outdoors and low consumption of dairy products particularly in those who are lactose intolerant. Teens who favor soft drinks and iced teas over fortified milk and cereal are also hard hit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its guidelines and now recommends a minimum daily intake of 400 IU of vitamin D beginning soon after birth and continuing through adolescence.

A closer look


Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are common in young people. So much so that rickets, or bone weakness, has made a comeback. More

Looking for vitamin D?

You might not find enough in food.

Food does not provide an adequate single source of vitamin D to maintain optimal health. Only cod liver oil, salmon and mackerel are high in vitamin D.

Click for examples of how much you’d have to consume of a particular food to meet the current recommended daily allowance of 400 IU.

Born and raised in Haiti, Gerda Paulissaint, 46, came to Boston about 12 years ago and a funny thing happened. She started having all sorts of aches and pains. Walking up a flight of stairs was particularly painful. “It was as if my legs were talking back to me,” she remembers.

She knew she had high blood pressure, but that didn’t explain that sort of pain or her restless sleep. She dismissed all of her symptoms as simply the result of stress. Without much further thought, she quietly went on with her work as a community health advocate at Mattapan Community Health Center. More

The man to see on vitamin D

Of all Douglas Fairhurst’s medical problems, the most bewildering were his weakening muscles. An avid bicyclist, Fairhurst, 74, could barely lift his leg much less pedal a bike. “I could hardly walk,” he said.

That’s when Fairhurst turned to Dr. Douglass Bibuld, the medical director of Mattapan Community Health Center.

An expert on vitamin D, Dr. Bibuld was well aware of the benefits that accrue from the aptly named “Sunshine Vitamin.” Received primarily from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, vitamin D is known for its ability to maintain healthy bones. More

Calcium & vitamin D: The dynamic duo

Many of us were taught growing up that calcium is the building block to healthy bones — drinking milk and eating dairy products will make us healthy and strong. This adage is undisputedly true, but what we didn’t know was that vitamin D is required for calcium to do its job.

If calcium is the building block to healthy bones, vitamin D is considered the cement. Without an adequate supply, calcium can not be utilized by our bodies to build strong bones and perform other vital physiological functions. Calcium is absorbed through the small intestine, and this process is not possible without ample amounts of vitamin D. The two work in unison to build a healthy body. More

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