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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Vitamin D deficiency among patients attending a central New Zealand rheumatology outpatient clinic

To measure the Vitamin D status in patients attending a rheumatology outpatient clinic because of the known musculoskeletal and immunosuppressive effects of Vitamin D deficiency.
Methods 66 consecutive patients at a private rheumatology clinic in central New Zealand were recruited at the beginning of winter.
Results Of 66 patients, 55 patients were included in the analysis. 43 (78%) had 25OH cholecalciferol levels that were below the reference range (50–150 nmol/L), and of these 12 (22%) had levels classified as moderate to severe deficiency (<25>
Number of patients
Rheumatoid arthritis
Inflammatory arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis
Polymyalgia rheumatica
Backpain and muscle pain
CREST syndrome
Exercise induced urticaria
Juvenile RA
Post viral fatigue
Reactive arthritis
Undifferentiated CTD
Gary Moller comments:
This study, published in the NZ Medical Journal by Dr Chiu of Wellington reflects very much my own findings when dealing with people with chronic health conditions. One of the most difficult things to get done in these cases is to get a blood test for vitamin D. Doctors rarely test for it despite the wealth of research evidence about the link between vitamin D and health.

For those of you who are athletically inclined, consider this: low vitamin D is associated with joint and muscle pain and muscle weakness. And it is no concidence that more babies are conceived over summer months than any other time of year!

As Dr Chiu points out in the Discussion Section of his paper, the optimum level for vitamin D is around 120 nmol/l. The fact that his results are at the end of summer is of great concern because it can be expected that D levels will plummet over the winter months.

Building up vitamin D levels is not an easy task, as I have found out personally. Despite a change of occupation that took me out from under flourescent lighting all day and into natural lighting surroundings and plenty of sunlight, my levels have been low. Last winter we holidayed a couple of weeks in sunny North Queensland. Despite this, my own vitamin D levels coming into spring were a low 68 nmol/l. This really shocked me and confirmed the need to really work on building levels over summer by a mix of vitamin D rich foods and careful sunbathing.

Roll on the 120-160nmol goal!

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