Vitamin D Overview

August 11th, 2018
Vitamin D Overview

Known as “The Sunshine Vitamin,” Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth, among other benefits.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamins are potent compounds that your body needs in very minute quantities for normal growth and overall good health. Vitamins help your body utilize all the other nutrients that you take in.

Vitamin D has multiple functions in the body. It helps your body absorb calcium from the intestines and maintains adequate calcium concentrations in the blood. Sufficient calcium concentrations are essential for the normal mineralization of bone required for bone growth, bone remodeling, maintaining strong bones and tooth formation. Vitamin D also plays a role in nerve, muscle and immune functions, regulating cell growth and reducing inflammation.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that it binds to fats, or lipids, that have been ingested and is absorbed with them. Therefore, anything that alters the intestines' absorption of fat, like certain drugs and diseases, will alter the absorption of vitamin D.

What happens if you have too little vitamin D in your body?

Individuals who have too little vitamin D, called hypovitaminosis D, may undergo faulty mineralization of bones and teeth. They may develop bones that are thin, brittle or soft and conditions like osteoporosis, osteomalacia, or rickets.

Hypovitaminosis D can cause delayed or failed healing whenever bone formation is required, like fracture healing. Thus, individuals recovering from orthopedic surgery may experience delayed or failed healing for spinal fusion, total hip or knee replacement, and ankle fusion. Poor bone quality may also be a risk factor for periodontal diseases.

Beyond its effects on the skeleton, hypovitaminosis D may adversely affect other organ systems and result in muscle weakness and pain, progression of osteoarthritis, and impaired immune function.

Can you have too much vitamin D in your body?

Yes. Vitamin D toxicity is possible but very rare. Vitamin D toxicity generally results only from extreme overuse of supplements, usually at or over 40,000 IU. Too much vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include calcium deposits in soft tissues, kidney stones, nausea, vomiting, constipation, weakness, and confusion or disorientation.

How do our bodies get vitamin D?

There are three ways your body can get vitamin D:

  • Food: Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods; other foods have vitamin D added to them (called fortified foods). Vitamin D-rich foods include fortified milk, egg yolks, liver and saltwater fish.
  • Exposure to sunlight: Your body produces vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight.
  • Supplements: Check with your health care provider to see how much you should take.

Can you determine how much vitamin D is in your body?

Yes. To determine how much vitamin D is in your body a blood test is required. Specifically, a laboratory will measure the serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a form of vitamin D. The results will be reported in one of two forms: nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) or nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). This test tells how much vitamin D is in your blood, but it does not indicate the amount of vitamin D stored in body tissues.

Recommended vitamin D daily intake

Daily intake of vitamin D and the amount of vitamin D in your blood are not identical. They are separate items. Ingesting more vitamin D should increase the amount of vitamin D in the blood; however, the amount of this increase can vary between individuals. The daily amount of vitamin D required by an individual will depend on a variety of factors, including how much vitamin D is currently in their blood. Therefore, daily intake needs may vary greatly from one person to another. Ask your doctor about the ideal vitamin D intake for you.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Watch Your Back – Tips for a Healthy Spine

August 6th, 2018
Woman with back pain

Anyone who's suffered back pain knows how important it is to protect your spine. Here are six easy ways to watch out for yourself, and avoid spine trouble that could save you a lot of pain.

Tip 1: Maintain Good Posture

Posture is one of the most important components of spine health. Because we spend nearly all of our waking hours standing and sitting, it is important to keep the spine erect, upright, and properly positioned.

  1. Sitting. Keep your knees and hips at the same level. Look straight when possible. Adjust televisions, computers, and mobile phones so they are at eye level.
  2. Standing. Stand up tall with your chest held high and your shoulders pulled slightly back. Try not to spend too much time bending your neck while looking at a mobile phone.
  3. Lifting. Lift with the legs and knees rather than your back and upper body. If an object is too heavy for you to lift on your own, find someone to help you.

No one can maintain perfect posture at all times; however, patients who take the time to pay attention to their posture see noticeable benefits in spine health quickly. Pain decreases and everyday activities become easier.

Tip 2: Exercise

Research shows that stretching and strengthening the spine's muscles, ligaments, and tendons improves spine health tremendously. Low impact exercises like walking, light jogging, swimming, or biking work great. Weight lifting with proper form is good as well. Training the core abdominal and oblique muscles helps keep the body’s foundation strong and is recommended.

Tip 3: Maintain Your Weight

Gaining weight puts extra stress and strain on the spine. In order to maintain your weight, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and weigh yourself consistently. Also, monitor your waist size to make you don’t gain belly fat that could potentially cause lower back pain.

Tip 4: Sleep on Your Side

Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on the spine. Sleeping on your side or back is better.

Tip 5: Modify Movements and Activities

If a movement or activity hurts your spine, do it less or don’t do it at all. Excess twisting, turning, and pivoting should be avoided when possible.

Tip 6: Take Breaks

Being in a position too long can cause a posture breakdown that leads to pain. To avoid this, take frequent breaks during work and day-to-day activities.

When to see a Physician

The six tips outlined above can help you maintain or improve your spine health. However, if you have neck and/or back pain that will not go away despite conservative treatment, we encourage you to make an appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

Where Neck Pain Begins

August 1st, 2018
Where Neck Pain Begins

Neck Pain Can Be Rough

Whether it's a result of bad posture, an overuse injury, degeneration from aging, or trauma, neck pain can be rough. For some, pain may only last for a few hours, but for others it may linger for days. Chronic neck pain may continue for weeks, or even years.

The Anatomy of Your Neck

Your spinal column is composed of vertebrae, vertebral discs, and the spinal cord. The 7 vertebrae in the cervical spine are stacked on top of one another at the top of the spinal column. These structures serve to give the body support and mobility while protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots, which run from the spinal cord to the shoulders and arms. Vertebral discs separate the vertebrae in your spine, acting as shock absorbers for the spinal column by providing a cushion between the vertebrae. These discs are made of tough, elastic material that allows the spine to bend and twist naturally.

Common causes of Neck Pain

Most neck pain is caused by issues with the muscles in the neck. This is often more mild pain, caused by muscle tension, cramps, or sprains. Poor posture can cause neck pain by forcing the spine into an incorrect position, so weight is distributed incorrectly. This can put pressure on the cervical section of the spine, or the neck. Neck pain can also be caused by wear-and-tear from aging or overuse through conditions like arthritis. This can cause degeneration that leads to nerve compression. Traumatic injury can also causes neck pain. This can be through a sudden impact or blow, or from an accident like a car wreck, and can cause conditions like herniated disc.

Neck Pain Symptoms

Disc-related problems in the cervical section of the spine can produce a variety of symptoms. These symptoms may include pain, arm weakness or numbness, and stiffness. There may also be changes in range of motion, balance, coordination, and fine motor skills.

Treating Neck Pain

Options for treating neck pain depend on the pain's cause, so treatment varies. Some conservative methods may include bracing, physical therapy exercises, medication to reduce inflammation, and steroid injections. If conservative methods do not have an effect, or if the condition is very severe, surgery may be necessary.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2019, All Rights Reserved.