Vitamin D Testing

Vitamin D Testing

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LaToya Millennia started this petition to Doug Ford (Premier, Ontario) and

Hi! I'm Toya.

If you had an extra $40 how would you spend it? What about $80 or $120?

As of 2010, coverage of vitamin D testing is no longer covered by OHIP in Ontario. The province's reasons and caveats to this policy are given here and here.

These documents state that the true way to test vitamin D levels is through the blood and that "vitamin D status in some sub-populations, may warrant further consideration". Sub populations was defined as those who live up north and those with darker skin.

The province further states, the population is getting adequate amounts of this vitamin from the sun's UVB rays and fortified foods like cow's milk. However, a large amount of Black people are lactose intolerant and people with darker skin tones cannot easily absorb UVB rays in the way that white skin can. Melanin in the skin blocks the UVB solar radiation necessary for vitamin D synthesis.

Many Ontario doctors disputed this decision citing that they were losing the ability to screen their patients for vitamin D deficiency here.

In that same year, Canadian Doctor’s and Nutritionists stressed the importance of vitamin D for BIPOC immigrants here, saying that coming to Canada could be "dangerous and bad for your health" if they didn't take vitamin D supplements.

Without OHIP coverage the cost of vitamin D testing is $40. As a woman with darker skin I get mine checked twice a year which equates to $80.

This cost does not include supplements or fortified foods.

Prolonged vitamin D deficiency has been linked to diagnosis of Cancer, Diabetes, Fibroids, Cardiovascular Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Reduced Cognitive Function, Multiple Sclerosis, Acute Respiratory Tract Infections, Mental Health Illness and Hair Loss.

According to the 2016 Census conducted by Statistics Canada, the BIPOC population in Ontario is 4,259,980‬. 1,002,110 are Black and Indigenous.

Research has shown a connection between vitamin D deficiency and fibroids; a non-cancerous growth of the uterus that often appears during childbearing years and impacts the ability to not only get pregnant but carry to term. In pregnant women, the risk of miscarriage and brain abnormalities is reduced to fetus’ in utero when vitamin D levels are adequate.

Fibroids are common in Black Women.  A study on those findings is here

The most common illnesses in Black and Indigenous people are Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Disease. African-American females are 10 times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency than their Caucasian counterparts.

Researchers globally have documented their findings, stating their support of vitamin D of testing here and here and here

There have been calls for more Canadian ethnic and culture based research here as "policy can’t be updated to reflect the group’s unique needs without it".

In the majority of studies that included the Black population, many were found to be vitamin D deficient.

Canadian Medical Schools are only now starting to develop curriculum around black health here.

Removing coverage has exposed BIPOC Canadians to the following:

  • Lifelong chronic diseases
  • Unsafe pregnancies and birthing
  • Barriers in access to care

These issues are then compounded when factoring in systemic racism, institutional racism and the social determinants of health.

To combat the effects of vitamin D deficiency, the UK and Singapore have implemented programs to give supplements to those who cannot afford it. See what these countries are doing to ensure that their populations have adequate vitamin D intake here, and here.

It is not recommended to take higher amounts of vitamin D supplements on your own without first knowing your levels. Hypercalcemia (vitamin D toxicity) can occur when too much calcium resides in the body. Therefore, free testing and monitoring by a medical professional can reduce the chance of this happening. AKA OHIP covered testing.

We have an election coming next year 2022 and I encourage you to use your voice to correct this egregious error. This health inequity will bring us one step closer to health equality in Ontario. 

No one should have to decide between paying rent or maintaining their health.

Photo Credit: @angelinabambina

 

 

 

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