CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D: Patient Information
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. The fact that it dissolves in fat is important, because it means the body can store it for future use. Unlike other vitamins, we do not need to get vitamin D from the food that we eat.
What food contains vitamin D?
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- Oily fish.
- Egg yolk.
- Cheese, milk and butter.
Who gets vitamin D deficiency?
- Growing children, pregnant women, and breast-feeding women need extra vitamin D because it is required for growth.
- People who get very little sunlight on their skin are also at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Strict sunscreen use can potentially lead to vitamin D deficiency, particularly if high SPF creams are used.
- People with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease are all at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Vitamin D deficiency can also occur in people taking certain medicines – examples include: carbamazepine, phenytoin, barbiturates and some HIV medicines.
- Patients with severe vitamin D deficiency can get muscle spasms, seizures and breathing difficulties.
- Children with severe deficiency may have soft skull or leg bones. Their legs may look curved. This condition is known as rickets.
- Children with vitamin D deficiency may be late teething as the development of the milk teeth has been affected.
- Children with vitamin D deficiency are more prone to infections and respiratory symptoms can occur in severe cases, breathing is affected because of weak chest muscles and a soft ribcage.
- Bone pains may develop and are typically felt in the ribs, hips, pelvis, thighs and feet.
What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?
How much should I take?
Premenopausal women and men should consume at least 1000 mg while postmenopausal women who do not take estrogen should consume 1200 to 1500 mg. The current recommendation is that all adults with or at risk for osteoporosis consume at least 800 International Units of vitamin D per day.
How to take calcium?
- Calcium may interfere with the way your body absorbs other medicines. If you are taking other medication you may need to take this at a different time to your calcium.
- Try to take calcium at the same times each day to avoid missing any doses.
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