Barhite: Don’t break a leg, get your vitamin DWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
My mom broke her leg two months ago.
The injury is so severe a lot of people assume she was in a car accident. Actually, she fell backward down a flight of steps when she reached for her cat.
I was shocked a fall could cause so much damage to her right leg.
As it turned out, doctors discovered her bone density had significantly decreased in the past few years and her body was ripe for a break.
She is only 60 years old, but she took Prilosec for years. Recently, bone loss and damage have been linked to certain medications, including Nexium and Prilosec. My mom also took Nexium for a bit.
Dr. Tanya Baldwin, a Mercy family physician in Toledo, said medications like Prilosec change the environment in the stomach, which means it doesn’t absorb calcium and vitamin D as well into the body.
Both vitamin D and calcium are essential to bone health. They work together. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.
Baldwin always recommends eating a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, but it is even more imperative when on medications like Prilosec.
Natural sources of vitamin D in food include:
1. Wild-caught salmon
4. Milk that is fortified with vitamin D (doesn’t matter if it is slim, soy or whole)
5. Cereal like corn flakes or Cheerios
6. Baked pork chops
7. Mushrooms (especially shiitake mushrooms)
8. Beef liver (if you can stomach it)
9. Ricotta cheese (like you find in lasagna)
Baldwin said vitamin D is measured in international units (IU), which are listed on food packages. Men and women who aren’t deficient in vitamin D should get about 400 IU per day, while growing teens should get about 1,200.
Those who are deficient like senior citizens should aim for 1,000-2000. For people like my mom who are severely deficient, they should get 50,000 IU a week. This is achieved with a high-dose vitamin D pill that is taken on short-term basis. Consult your doctor to get a read on your vitamin D levels.
“I really do recommend that people take a multivitamin,” Baldwin said. “It has both vitamin D and calcium.”
To increase calcium, Baldwin said dairy products are always good, but don’t forget about broccoli, turnip greens and nuts as sources of calcium as well.
Keep in mind that calcium without vitamin D is no good, though.
Baldwin said people can get extra vitamin D through the sun, but in the Midwest, “we don’t have enough sunny days.”
And if “we are going to get vitamin D through the sun, we need to wear sunscreen,” she said.