What a Michigan Summer Means for Vitamin D
Why You Shouldn't Fear Low Levels in the Winter

Living in Michigan means surviving through dark, harsh winters that can seem to last forever. Because of the decrease in sunlight, many Michiganders may think they have low vitamin D levels, and may seek testing or self-prescribe with supplements. However, testing is unlikely to change the advice from your doctor, and too much vitamin D can potentially be toxic.
According to Consumer Reports and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), vitamin D testing has risen six times since 2008 and cost Medicare $224 million in 2011. Considering that much of the ordered vitamin D tests aren't necessary, this is a clear example of medical overuse. They suggest that the daily recommended intake for adults under 70 should be 600 IU. While that may seem high, some of us are already meeting this intake, and getting enough vitamin D is more easy and simple than you may think! Remember: determining the right amount of vitamin D, and whether testing and/or supplementation is right for you, should be done in conversation with your doctor. Use the 5 Questions to help you get started.
In the article, Consumer Reports and ASCP advise that getting outside and getting some sun is one way to help make sure you get enough vitamin D. Here in Michigan, when the weather is warm and sunny, taking advantage of our state's beautiful natural resources - like the Great Lakes and countless state parks - can do a lot to make sure you're getting the right amount. They suggest that a 10 minute midday walk can produce 15 times the daily recommended intake.
But what about during the winter when our ability to be outside and make use of the sun's ultraviolet rays is diminished - a phenomenon that seems to last half the year in Michigan? Consumer Reports and ASCP propose adding the right kinds of vitamin D-rich foods can be of benefit. These foods include fatty fishes, like salmon, along with other meats and poultry. Additionally, many foods, such as dairy products and cereal, are fortified with vitamin D, so eating breakfast can do more than you think. Making these simple changes to your diet is another way to try and get enough vitamin D.
The article also states that our bodies will store excess vitamin D to be used when we need it, so there's little need to worry when winter comes - you likely have some vitamin D on reserve. Remember though to talk with your doctor and ask the 5 Questions to determine if testing is necessary and right for you. Unnecessary tests can lead to unnecessary treatments, which can present harmful risks, as well as be costly and time consuming. Making the easy and simple changes offered by Consumer Reports and the American Society for Clinical Pathology can help you make sure you're getting enough vitamin D without wasting time and money - both of which could be spent on a day at one of the Great Lakes. You'll get your vitamin D and have fun too!

For more information, please read the Consumer Reports article on vitamin D testing by clicking here.

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