Thursday, April 22, 2010

Putting the ‘D’ Back in Your Diet

Recent studies have shown that many Americans are not getting an adequate amount of vitamin D. What does that mean for women? Simply, if you’re not getting enough vitamin D you are at risk for osteoporosis because vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium.

“Even if you’re taking calcium supplements your body may not be getting the calcium it needs,” says Atousa Farough, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Cardinal Internal Medicine and a member of the Sentara Potomac Hospital medical staff. “Without adequate vitamin D, calcium is not properly absorbed into the body. Therefore, the calcium is really not helping maintain your bone health.”

According to Dr. Farough, the relationship between calcium and vitamin D is similar to gas and oil in your car. Even if you use the highest quality gas in your car, it won’t run well if you don’t replenish your oil.

“The two work in tandem and don’t really work as well without the other one,” says Dr. Farough. “The current recommendations are for women 18- to 50-years-old to take 200 IU (International Units) of vitamin D a day. Those ages 50-70 should take 400 IU and those over 70 should take 600 IU a day. But women should talk to their doctors about how much vitamin D they need. Many women need more than the recommended amount – especially those who get limited sun exposure or who have other health conditions that warrant the increase.”

“In addition to aiding calcium absorption,” says Dr. Farough, “research suggests that vitamin D also provides protection from osteoporosis, hypertension, cancer and other diseases, which makes talking to your doctor about vitamin D even more important.”

According to Dr. Farough, 10 minutes of daily sun exposure can also contribute to vitamin D intake, as well as eating vitamin D-rich food such as fish, eggs and fortified milk or orange juice.

Dr. Atousa Farough encourages all women to talk to their doctors about getting the right amount of vitamin D. She is a partner at Cardinal Internal Medicine in Lake Ridge and can be reached at 703-497-4700.