As we have blogged on before, in the fall of 2011, the Vitamin D Council gave away free vitamin D at the Farmers’ Market in downtown San Luis Obispo. It was, to say the least, an educational experience. Bio Tech Pharmacal was nice enough to provide us with vitamin D to give away. We came fully armed with different types of vitamin D, reading materials, and a small sign. I know we have blogged on it before, but I’d like to share my insights.
First, everyone thought we were selling something, even when we put up our sign that said “Free Bottle of Vitamin D.” It is emotionally difficult to stand in the street attempting to hand a free bottle of vitamin D to passersbys who think you are hawking something. However, it didn’t take long to hit potential pay dirt.
I remember a woman in a wheelchair for profound muscle weakness who stopped to say that her doctor is talking about ordering a vitamin D blood test. I wanted to ask which test is he planning to order; there is a right one [25(OH)D] and a wrong one [1,25-di-hydroxy-vitamin D). The wrong test is often elevated in vitamin D deficiency and thus may be a serious mistake.
I told her of a case series of five people in wheelchairs for profound muscle weakness who got up and walked after taking proper amounts of vitamin D, but I could tell it was no hope. She wheeled away without the free vitamin D, apparently believing that something as serious as being wheelchair bound could not be helped by something seemingly trivial, like something that was being given away free at a Farmers’ Market.
I had better luck with the next family I stopped, a woman with two children, one breastfeeding and one about five-years old. She had a hard time believing that nature’s perfect food (breast milk) has no vitamin D unless the mother is outside in the full sun a lot or takes 5,000 IU/day. However, I could tell she believed me, so I gave her several bottles of 5,000 IU, telling her to double the dose the first month. I told her to buy a cheap bottle of 1000 IU pills and give her five year old 1000 IU per 25 lbs and round up. He weighs about 40 pounds so that’s 2,000 IU/day. Mom went away interested, looking at the reading materials.
Finally, a teenage jock came sauntering by. I happened to have my paper on vitamin D and athletic performance, and she was very interested in anything that could improve speed, jumping ability, choice reaction time, balance and quickness. I quickly added that it only works well if you are vitamin D deficient to begin with, but even female soccer players are often deficient. However, she took two bottles and went away happy.
One person at a time. Someone said that is how change happens, one person at a time. It’s slower going than I’d like it to be, but I hope the Council is making a dent in this public health problem, one person at a time.