Vitamin D, a preventive vitamin that responds more like a hormone, aids in the body's ability to absorb calcium and also improves bone mineral density. Studies indicate vitamin D could also prevent a number of chronic diseases.

In the October 2008 issue of Urologic Nursing, Mark A. Moyad presents a "rapid review" of vitamin D to educate urology nurses and others about vitamin D deficiency, dietary and multivitamin supplements, blood testing and ideal vitamin D blood levels.

Much of the population is vitamin D deficient, and many factors contribute: aging, obesity, use of cholesterol-lowering medications, low intake of foods high in vitamin D and low exposure to sunlight. Eating vitamin D-rich foods, taking vitamin D supplements and increasing sun exposure are all ways to raise the body's vitamin D levels.

Moyad notes, however, that increasing one's sun exposure to improve vitamin D levels is not advised. He suggests maintaining sun-protective measures and supplementing vitamin D through multivitamins and vitamin D-rich foods.

Patients should receive the vitamin D blood test, ideally in fall or winter when levels may be at their lowest, to ensure they are maintaining proper vitamin D levels. Men receiving androgen or hormone deprivation treatment for prostate cancer or those on similar medications, which increase the risk of bone loss, should utilize the vitamin D blood test and work to maintain bone density with diet, exercise and vitamin D supplements, says Moyad.

He recommends health care providers educate patients about vitamin D "not just to improve bone health, but to improve overall health and well being." (Vitamin D: A Rapid Review; Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH; Urologic Nursing; October 2008; suna)

About SUNA

The Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates is a national, non-profit professional membership association with over 3,000 members and annual revenues of $1.5 million. SUNA derives its income from membership dues (only $60), conference registration fees, exhibits, advertising, grants, and the sale of educational products. SUNA publishes a professional, peer-reviewed bi-monthly journal (Urologic Nursing Journal) and a bi-monthly newsletter (Uro-Gram). SUNA establishes the scope and standards of urologic nursing practice and the scope and standards of advanced urologic nursing practice. SUNA provides scholarships, grants and awards to deserving nurses and other health care professionals. SUNA supports and promotes the certification of urologic nurses and associates by providing educational preparation for the examinations offered which lead to certification in three areas. SUNA provides a variety of opportunities for participation including local chapters, task forces and Special Interest Groups (SIGS) in five major subspecialty areas.

Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates

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