Vitamin D is clearly a beneficial vitamin, but there is too much of a good thing. There are risks to vitamin D levels that are too high, (see this National Institutes of Health paper on vitamin D toxicity) – just as there are risks for levels that are too low. Julie Poteet, OD, MS, CNS, FOWNS, former president of the Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society, says that it’s important that doctors consider what patients’ current level of vitamin D is before recommending supplements. “If we are going to advise using it, we have to be able to measure it,” she says.
That is easier now with OmegaQuant, a home-based finger prick blood test that many health professionals are using so patients can measure their omega 3 levels; a vitamin D test has been added.
Dr. Poteet says that bringing patients’ vitamin D levels in line can have a dramatic effect. Vitamin D deficiency is a driver of both systemic and ocular inflammation. Vitamin D supports bone health, heart health and the body’s immune system. She recalls seeing a young patient with Type 1 diabetes who struggled with flagging energy. Dr. Poteet suggested to the patient’s mother to test the girl’s vitamin D levels. “Three months later, that mother came to see me to give me a hug. ‘My daughter feels like a different person,’ she told me.”
Research shows that most Americans have inadequate levels of vitamin D, and with the benefits to dry eye, there is definitely an opportunity for recommending vitamin D. However, Dr. Poteet, who also works as a nutritional consultant in addition to practicing in Acworth, Georgia, says that she may not recommend it until the patient has had the bloodwork done.
“The internet is filled with advice about vitamin D supplements, and now even journals are talking about the benefits of vitamin D for dry eye in postmenopausal women. It can be a great thing, but it should not usually be recommended outside of the context of what a patient’s current levels are,” she says.
Learn more about OmegaQuant’s home testing here.
Read this gem from the archives featuring Dr. Poteet and others: The Carotenoids Are Coming for Thanksgiving Dinner!