Vitamin D deficiency leads to the formation of excess, poorly formed bone, and weak muscles. In addition to its obvious link to osteoporosis, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to generalized bone and muscle pain, and a higher incidence of cancers, particularly colon cancer. Patients with severe vitamin D deficiency may develop a waddling gait known as Trendelenburg gait secondary to muscle weakness and reduced reflexes without muscle wasting.
Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium. The body can produce vitamin D from the ultraviolet rays of the sun or absorb it from vitamin D fortified foods such as milk, certain dairy, cold-water fish, organ meat, and eggs. The increased avoidance of the sun due to the fear of skin cancer, more time spent indoors because of work, avoidance of milk products due to lactose intolerance, higher use of sun block, less consumption of cod, herring, mackerel, and organ meat have all increased our risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Overweight and obese patients are at particular risk also because of poor nutritional habits, low fortified food intake, fatty liver disease and decreased sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery.
One of our patients came to us with multiple medical issues and a vitamin D level of 17. After losing more than 95 pounds in nine months, he is off all his pain/mood/sleep medication. His other issues have resolved with his weight loss and improved exercise capacity.
Ask your health care professional to check your vitamin D level at your next physical. Normal levels are 32-100.