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Most folks can’t resist making New Year’s resolutions in January. While change is great, the most important thing to make in the new year is a doctor’s appointment for an annual check up. Taking a proactive approach to your health is the best way to protect it. Too many people wait until they are in a health crisis to address concerns, but prevention is always better than treatment.

Here are a few “unusual suspects” that are important to our well-being but often neglected. Want to improve your 2018? Make an appointment with your doctor and get things checked out stat.

1 Vitamin D Level

Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for the body. It’s responsible for healthy bones and teeth, maintaining the immune system and protecting our systems from chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. Symptoms that you’re vitamin D levels are low include fatigue, persistent colds and depression. The best way to increase vitamin D levels in the body is through direct sunlight. That means taking long walks (wear sunblock), opening up windows to get natural sunlight in the house and painting your residence light colors that reflect the sunlight. You can also add it through diet by being mindful of eating foods like fish, oatmeal and oranges that are rich in vitamin D. People of color should note that darker pigmented skin produces less vitamin D, which increases the likelihood of creating a deficiency. A simple blood test can reveal vitamin D levels. Request it.

2 Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio between an individual’s height and weight, is a tool used to determine a “normal” body size range and indicator of possible health issues.  You can determine your BMI by plugging your height and weight into a BMI calculator. A higher BMI predisposes a person to high bold pressure, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems and many other illnesses. While everyone should be mindful of maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen, those with high BMIs should consult a nutritionist to help create a food/workout plan to improve ratio.

3 STD Status

According to the CDC, millions of people contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) annually. Many STDs don’t have symptoms—especially for men—but can have lasting  consequences, like erectile dysfunction or infertility. Early detection and treatment saves lives, and improves quality of life. Consult your primary doctor or health clinic for testing.

4 Eye Examination

Many people  ignore their eye health until it affects them in a way that is debilitating. The body gives clear signs of impairment, like squinting, headaches and blurred vision. Many of these conditions can be halted or remedied if treated immediately. Waiting can lead to significant issues with eyesight. Carve out the time to get an eye exam.

5 Cardiac Health

According to the American Heart Association (AHA) one in four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease. It kills more people than ALL cancers combined. Heart disease does not discriminate against race, gender, or age. A simple examination, which includes an EKG, blood tests (including cholesterol and cardiac enzymes and blood pressure checks) can detect any abnormalities.  Early detection and problem-solving are key. Smoking cessation, exercise, a heart-healthy diet and stress reduction minimize the risk of heart disease.

Nurse Noel is a popular health expert, a regular on the Dr. Oz Show and passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.