Locations

Coeur d'Alene

Phone: 208-667-2588
Toll-free: 888-208-2268
Fax: 208-664-1272
1031 N. Academic Way,
Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

cdactr@uidaho.edu
www.uidaho.edu/cda

A Day without Sunshine….Is a Day without Vitamin D | April 22, 2009

A walk in the sunshine could be better in boosting your immune system and preventing the common cold or flu than that Vitamin C you’ve been taking. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because we get it as the sun hits our skin. Historically, we have promoted Vitamin D because it helps in the absorption of calcium to form and maintain strong bones. Deficiencies led to rickets and contributed to osteoporosis. But recently, new medical research has linked Vitamin D as a protective factor in cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, diabetes and several autoimmune diseases. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, also linked low blood levels of Vitamin D to increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection. Some promising research is currently underway studying the link of Vitamin D to MS, Lupus and Fibromyalgia.

You can find Vitamin D in fish, eggs, fortified milk, and cod liver oil, but most of us get it from the sun. As little as 10 minutes of exposure, 3 times per week can give us what we need. The rest of the time you should wear sunscreen. Living in North Idaho, with long dark winters can pose problems meeting our requirements.

Vitamin D deficiency has not been well-recognized, but many physicians are now routinely screening their patients. Laboratories are seeing a surge in the number of vitamin D tests that are being ordered. Dr. Geoffrey Emry, general practice physician from Ironwood Family Practice screens most of his patients for Vitamin D. He estimates that between 80-90% of his patients test results come back low, less than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood. After supplementation for a few weeks, many of his patients experience more energy, less joint pain and overall, feel better. Vitamin D status offers patients one potential option to reduce a possible source of risk for common disorders. Since North Idahoans don’t get very much sunlight during the long winter months, talk to your doctor about having your levels checked. Now that spring is finally here, get outside and enjoy some of that sunshine!