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Vitamin D Deficiency

Forty-three percent of patients scheduled to undergo orthopedic surgery have insufficient levels of vitamin D and two out of five of those patients had levels low enough to place them at risk for metabolic bone disease, according to a study published in the October 6, 2010 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is essential for bone growth and bone remodeling. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen. People can obtain vitamin D in three ways:

  • by eating certain types of food (including fish, dairy products, eggs and mushrooms);
  • receiving sun exposure; and
  • taking supplements.

All 723 patients in the study had been cleared by a specialist in internal medicine for elective orthopedic surgery, such as total hip or knee replacement.

The researchers found that:

  • 411 (57 percent) had normal Vitamin D levels,
  • 202 (28 percent) had insufficient levels; and
  • 110 (15 percent) were vitamin D deficient.

When results were broken down by orthopaedic service area, researchers uncovered a surprising finding: Despite having the youngest mean population (average age 45), the sports medicine group of patients had the second-highest rate of vitamin D insufficiency (52 percent) – exceeded only by patients in the Trauma group (66.1 percent).

For the full American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ release, go to:

For more about how physical therapists help people regain and maintain balance, physical function, strength and range of motion, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

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