When I was trained as a physician, we were taught that if a person lives in the south (south of Virginia) – it is not necessary to check for vitamin D levels. Of course over the past few years, the importance of vitamin D and its rampant deficiency has become evident. Therefore, over the past two years, monitoring vitamin D levels has become a routine part of my patient screening and, unfortunately, much like the nationwide data revealed, I have found low levels are the norm!
Supplementation of vitamin D has often been a source of debate in the medical community. Studies have sought to determine if supplementing vitamin D is valuable for the preventing the decline in bone density, among other things. It has always been my opinion that supplementation of vitamin D is valuable to the health of most patients. I prescribe between 2000-5000 IU per day based upon the patient’s levels as reported through screening and I continue to monitor these levels to ensure they do not exceed the therapeutic range. In healthy individuals, I expect to see the 25-OH vitamin D levels at 50-80 ng/mL
Today, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study today that determined supplementation of vitamin D is beneficial in the prevention of fracture and maintenance of bone density – however, high doses are necessary to observe these benefits. The study concluded that supplementation of vitamin D greater than 800 IU per day offers favorable outcomes for the prevention of hip fractures and any non-vertebral fracture in individuals aged 65 years and older.