Patient Education

Billings OBGYN

Your Health, Our Passion

Vitamin D is best known for its work in maintaining healthy bone strength. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which aids the small intestine in absorbing calcium. When vitamin D levels in the body are low, less calcium is absorbed from the diet, causing calcium to be released from the bones. This can lead to weak bones and the possible onset of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a major health problem for many elderly patients and typically appears after menopause. In addition to hip factures, pain and suffering, it is also the indirect cause of more deaths than breast cancer.

Maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is critical for warding off serious illnesses. Research has indicated a link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of several diseases including: heart disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and adult onset diabetes. It has also been associated with depression and decreased energy levels. In pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of pre-eclampsia (toxemia) and gestational diabetes.

The majority of vitamin D that we accumulate is through the skin with exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, with the Montana climate and latitude, approximately 80% of Montanans are vitamin D deficient. Because of this, I recommend vitamin D supplements for nearly everyone.

The most common amount I see recommended by the experts is 2000IU of extra vitamin D per day. More is frequently prescribed if the D levels in the body are very low. Most milk is fortified with extra vitamin D and supplements can be obtained very inexpensively at the drug store.

It is nearly impossible to become vitamin D toxic from supplementation. If you would like to get a vitamin D level check, please ask your health care provider.

Douglas Neuhoff, MD Billings OB-GYN Associates