Vitamin D and your Healing

Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
My friend recently had bunion surgery and before her surgery, she had a blood test.  The blood test showed that she had a vitamin D deficiency.  Why would that matter for her surgery?  Did she develop a bunion because of a vitamin D deficiency?
A perplexed friend
Dear Perplexed,
There is no direct correlation between your friend’s vitamin D deficiency and the development of her bunion.  A person develops a bunion for various reasons but an overwhelming reason is the individual’s foot bone structure.
Vitamin D is a very interesting subject.  There is more being learned about it all the time.  Vitamin D is essential in the development of strong bones.  It seems to me that in the olden days (back when dirt was clean) Wonder Bread used to tout that vitamin D was added to the bread.  Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and is the regulator of calcium in the bones.
In prior times, your body would absorb vitamin D from the sun.  Then as we started using more sunscreen and working longer hours, our chance to absorb it from the sun became less and less.  Vitamin D can also be found in foods like fortified milk, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and wild-caught oily fish but it is very hard for your body to absorb the amounts needed from food.
As women age, their bodies lose bone mass. These weaker bones are more susceptible to fractures.  It is often recommended that they take a calcium with vitamin D supplement.  The vitamin D and calcium help strengthen bones.
Also, people with darker skin have a hard time absorbing enough vitamin D.  The skin pigment, melanin, reduces the body’s ability to make vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.  That means that your body will store it for use when needed.  Which is good for those whose intake of the vitamin is irregular but it also means that you should follow a doctor’s guideline for how much to take of the vitamin.  Do not just start taking the supplement.  Ask your doctor about it.
So, in going back to your original question, your friend’s vitamin D levels were checked because vitamin D aids in healing.  If you bones are weak going into surgery, your recovery will take longer and your healing will not be as fast as it would be if you have strong healthy bones.
According to researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, approximately 50 percent of the patients undergoing orthopedic surgery had a vitamin D deficiency.  It is felt that correcting the deficiency prior to surgery would improve the outcomes.
The correction involves taking a vitamin D supplement that is gauged for the patient’s deficiency.  It is felt that the correction would probably take four to six weeks but it can be done faster when the patient is monitored closely.
If you are going to have surgery by your friendly local podiatric surgeon, please ask them about your vitamin D levels.  You will probably have to have a blood test before the surgery and this can just be a part of that test.  You want to have the best possible outcome – a quick, easy, and painless recovery.  That is what your doctor wants for you also.
Just as a note –
As it gets colder here in the Midwest, I think more and more about staying home where it is nice and warm.  Also, with the end of the year coming up, it is a great time to schedule appointments to fix bunions, hammers toes, and infected toe nails.  You can use the time off at the end of the year to recover and you will then be all set for next summer.  So, now that you have hit your deductible, it is time to get your tootsies all set.  Everyone can then rave about your beautiful feet.
Trivia Question of the week– Vitamin D is different from every other vitamin because once in your body it is converted to become a _______________.
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons– on Friday, December 14th.  While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning.

To learn more about Chicago DPM, visit our About Us page or Contact Us Today!