D is a hot topic, both in the news and often in the examination room. So what’s the deal with vitamin D? Vitamin D is not truly a vitamin but a hormone that’s created by cells when skin is exposed to sunlight. It can help lower one’s
risk of heart disease and cancer and promotes healthy bone growth. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of Americans are not only running low on this important vitamin but might even be deficient.
As the days get shorter and we march ever closer to
another Chicago-area winter, Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine, shares four good reasons to check your vitamin D levels and four ways to improve
(Click on the image to listen to Dr. Mann discusss the importance of vitamin D on NorthShore Health & Wellness.)
Why Is It Important?
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. If there
is a deficiency of vitamin D and thus also a deficiency of calcium, the body will take calcium from its bones, weakening them and leaving them vulnerable to fractures. For kids and teens, it’s vital to bone growth and strength. In adults, vitamin D can
help prevent osteomalacia, osteoporosis, bone pain and muscle weakness.
Vitamin D improves energy level and mood. Vitamin D is a key component in brain development. Deficiencies have been linked to low energy and depressive symptoms.
It can also help combat the symptoms of seasonal affect disorder (S.A.D.).
Vitamin D could improve your health now and later. In studies, vitamin D has been shown to boost the immune system, leaving it in better shape to fight
off infections. Studies have also found a positive correlation between sufficient vitamin D levels and lower incidences of cancer—colon, breast, prostate—and heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and potentially
Vitamin D may improve athletic performance. A recent study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal concluded that low levels of vitamin D compromise fitness and energy levels. Athletes
with higher levels of vitamin D were shown to perform at a higher level.
How to Improve Levels:
Have you had your vitamin D levels
Every flu season is different but there’s one thing you can count on: there will be one. Flu season in the U.S. can
begin as early as October and continue into late May. Perhaps you’ve already noticed an uptick in coughing and sneezing on the train, in the office or at school, but it’s not too late to take action and keep your family happy and healthy throughout flu season.
Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, shares some top tips for keeping the flu from catching up with you and the rest of your
family this season:
Do you make sure to get the flu vaccine every year?
“How are you feeling?” is probably one of the first questions your doctor will ask during your annual visit. If you haven’t
needed to see your doctor between physicals, your answer will most likely be, “Fine.” It won't be until later that you remember all the miscellaneous symptoms, heath issues, and aches and pains from the last year.
Don’t miss another opportunity to maximize your time with your doctor. By planning and preparing beforehand, you ensure that you’ll remember to ask the correct questions during the limited time you have with your primary care physician.
Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine at NorthShore, offers some tips on how to make the most of your time with your doctor:
Do you have a yearly physical? How do you make the most of your annual visit?