Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin
Friday, December 28, 2012
I went to a new doctor last September and she wanted to run a few basic blood tests as part of my “new patient” exam. I also asked her to check my vitamin D levels, but she was reluctant and said they were probably fine. I told her that I keep hearing about people in northern climates being vitamin D deficient, and that several people at work were recently put on mega doses of vitamin D because their levels were so low. One co-worker was even diagnosed with rickets! I garden and go for long walks outdoors during the summer, so surely I was getting enough sunshine and vitamin D, right? That was the doctors assumption, but I just wanted the assurance that my levels were okay as of this point in time.
I didn’t hear anything, so I assumed everything was fine. But then for some reason today I decided to call and get a copy of the lab results just for my records. And guess what? I have very low levels of vitamin D! They’re even lower than the “insufficient” range. I’m glad I pushed for the blood test and wish I had followed up sooner on the results. We need to be our own health advocates and should never assume that “no news” necessarily means “good news”. They immediately called in a prescription for me to take mega doses of vitamin D for the next three months, at which point I’ll be re-checked and the doctor will decide whether I need more high doses or what level I need to take as a supplement for maintenance.
Vitamin D deficiency doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, so I’m not sure that I will notice any improvements in my energy or anything after taking these mega doses. I know it can lead to thinning bones, so that’s something I’d like to avoid as I get older. I’ve done some Googling and have learned that vitamin D deficiencies may be blamed for increased rates in cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Those are all things I’d like to avoid, so if taking a daily supplement to maintain my vitamin D levels reduces my risks, the costs of those supplements will be well worth it.
I get outside a lot during the summer, and I’m not always good about wearing sunscreen, which reduces our body’s ability to create vitamin D. So if I was deficient at the end of a summer with all that sun exposure, how low would my levels be after being inside for the most part for several months of a dark winter?
If you’d like more information, here’s an article about Vitamin D that I found on SparkPeople. And if you haven’t had your vitamin D levels checked, you may want to, particularly if you live in the north.