By Dr Peter Kadile

Dr. Kadile, you have mentioned the benefits of vitamin D in one of your previous columns. When I was looking to buy some vitamin D, there are some brands that simply say “Vitamin D” and some that say “Vitamin D3”. Is there a difference?
Charlie, La Quinta

Well Charlie, if the supplement simply says, “Vitamin D”, you will have to look closer at the label to see if it specifies either vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or vitamin D3(cholecalciferol).
There is a difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is manufactured by plants or fungus and is fortified in foods, such as juices, milk or cereals. Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D that is produced when the body’s skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 is considered the more ‘natural form” of vitamin D. It can also be obtained when eating animal products. Vitamin D3 is more potent than D2. Vitamin D3 has been shown to raise and maintain serum D levels greater than vitamin D2. Clearly vitamin D3 is the preferable form of vitamin D.

As I have mentioned previously, if you are concerned about your vitamin D level, have your doctor check it with a lab test. If you don’t know your level, supplementing with vitamin D3 1,000-2,000IU is a good dose.

Dr. Kadile, I heard about TB at Indio High School a few months ago. I live near there, should I be worried?
Patricia, Indio

Patricia, tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but can attack other parts as well, such as the spine, brain and kidneys. TB is contagious if you are near a person with active tuberculosis and he coughs, sneezes or speaks and the bacteria spread through the air from one person to another. You cannot get TB from shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, kissing or touching bed sheets or toilet seats.

Most people who are exposed to TB never get symptoms or get sick and are classified as latent TB infection versus people who do get sick (active TB). Just because a person has a latent TB infection, he/she still has the possibility of developing the active TB form years later. Individuals with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop the active form of TB. Active TB disease can be fatal if untreated,

Symptoms of TB can include, a bad cough lasting greater than 3 weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, poor appetite, chills, fever, and sweating at night.
Testing to see if a person has been exposed to TB is usually with a skin test or blood test. If the test has a positive reaction, additional testing is needed to determine if that person has latent or active TB.

Treatment for latent TB is dependent on the chances of the person converting to the active form. The treatment for the active form of TB is taking several medications usually for 6 to 9 months.

Patricia, it is unlikely you have contracted TB unless you have been exposed on a daily basis to someone who has TB. The TB skin test is easy and relatively painless, you should see your doctor for the test if you are still concerned.