Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
Foot and ankle surgeons warn a deficiency can increase chances of foot stress fractures
Chicago, November 14, 2016
- Have you experienced repetitive foot fractures or unexplainable foot pain? According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), your foot woes could be the result of inadequate levels of vitamin D, which can increase your risk of incurring a stress fracture in the bones of your feet.
According to Arizona-based foot and ankle surgeon and ACFAS Fellow Member, Jason Kayce, DPM, FACFAS, "Calcium is often touted as the quintessential nutrient for building bone density. While true, vitamin D manages the calcium you intake, allowing the body to absorb both calcium and phosphate, which builds your bones."
Simply put, without enough vitamin D, it is difficult for bones to grow or heal properly-a fact that lends to reason why people experience foot fractures and recurring foot and ankle injuries.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble supplement essential for strong bones. In addition to an increased risk of incurring a foot fracture, vitamin D deficiency can also lead to osteoporosis, a higher risk of falls and bone and muscle pain. "In patients with low levels of vitamin D, often the weightbearing bones in the foot and ankle are so easily affected because they are not strong enough to withstand the pressure of carrying a person's body," said Dr. Kayce.Why the low levels of vitamin D?
The caveat with vitamin D is the limited means of consumption available. Very few foods have enough beneficial amounts of vitamin D. And, even a good portion of fortified foods do not contain enough to support the recommended daily amount, which is 400 IU, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Sun exposure remains the largest and most viable source for vitamin D; however, the necessity of using sunscreen blocks vitamin D absorption. "Even in places such as Arizona and Florida, where solar ingestion is without shortage of supply, there is still an issue of adequate vitamin D intake. In the last year, of the vitamin D levels I have tested in patients here in the Phoenix area, roughly only one in 50 patients had sufficient levels," added Dr. Kayce. How do you know if you have inadequate levels of vitamin D?
If you have continuous foot pain or frequently experience foot fractures, your best bet is to have your vitamin D levels tested by your foot and ankle surgeon. "Patients I treat for foot fractures with low vitamin D levels typically are over the age of 50, obese, have limited sun exposure, a darker skin complexion or live with a medical condition resulting in fat malabsorption. All of which are textbook characteristics that put you at a greater risk for having insufficient vitamin D levels," said Dr. Kayce.
Still, with the proper diagnosis and treatment, vitamin D deficiency can often be reversed. If it is determined that you have lower than the recommended level, your foot and ankle surgeon can proceed with the necessary course of action to address it based on your current level.
To schedule an appointment to have your vitamin D levels tested by a foot and ankle surgeon, or to find a foot and ankle surgeon in your area, visit the American College of Foot and Surgeons' patient education website at FootHealthFacts.org