Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for strong bones. Inadequate vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis, increased risk of falls, fractures, and bone and muscle pain. In the foot and ankle, stress fractures of the metatarsal bones and ankle may be seen in those with Vitamin D deficiency, as well as generalized foot pain.
Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, but may be taken as a supplement. It is also produced by the body when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Many people, however, have low levels of Vitamin D and need a supplement to reach recommended levels. Those at increased risk for low Vitamin D include older adults, people with limited sun exposure, darker skinned individuals, people who are obese, and those with medical conditions resulting in fat malabsorption.
Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to slow bone loss and reduce fractures, particularly when taken with calcium. The US FDA daily value for Vitamin D is 400 IU, but for those with Vitamin D deficiency higher levels may be recommended. Your foot and ankle surgeon can do a simple lab test to check your Vitamin D level and then recommend any necessary treatment.