St. Mary's Medical Center

Summer 2017

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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8 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m | S U M M E R 2 0 1 7 | S P I R I T O F W O M E N Vitamin D is an essential ingredient for health— not just for bones, as we have long known, but for immune system and cardiovascular wellness, and to ward off weight gain, depression and even some cancers, says Dr. Kylee Stanley, an internist with Fremont Health in Fremont, Neb. You're more likely to be deficient in vitamin D if you don't get enough through your diet or sun exposure, Dr. Stanley explains. In fact, a 2010 study published in Nutrition Journal suggested that 42 percent of U.S. adults had low levels of vitamin D, with the highest rates among African Americans and Latinos. A: Q: A: Q: Can I get more vitamin D by adjusting what I eat? Absolutely. Sometimes vegetarians struggle to get enough vitamin D because natural sources are contained in animal products. Vitamin D requires fat to be absorbed, so you'll want at least 10 percent of your calories to come from healthy fats, such as those in salmon, tuna and fortified dairy products like yogurt, says Tracy Stark, a registered dietitian with WellStar Health System in Marietta, Ga. A: Q: So what do I do next? Your health care provider can evaluate whether you have a short-term vitamin D deficiency or a chronic issue. For most adults, it's safe to take a daily supplement of 600 to 800 IU (international units) of vitamin D, but your physician should make specific recommendations for you. (Those older than 70 may need more.) You might also be advised to boost your exposure to the sun. If you're at greater risk, your physician may prescribe a higher-dosage vitamin D supplement until a blood test signals you're back in balance. Then, you'll likely need to repeat the blood test in three to six months. The real truth about My doctor says I'm low on vitamin D. What's the big deal? A: Q: How can I get enough vitamin D from exposure to the sun and still protect myself from skin cancer? As in all things, moderation is key. Just 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen is enough to get that vitamin D boost, says Stark. Perhaps you start the morning by walking your dog without protection, for example, and then apply sunscreen for the rest of the day. If you're fair-skinned or have a history of skin cancer, however, be sure to consult your health care provider before you forego sunscreen for any length of time. vitamin D To send a health question to "Sharing Health Secrets," please email or write to Sharing Health Secrets, Spirit of Women magazine, 4270 Ivy Pointe Blvd., Suite 220, Cincinnati, OH 45245. Sharing Health Secrets

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