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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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    1896 days ago
    I also tested very low in Vitamin D. I was only surprised because I was still low after taking supplements. I'm about ready for another test after 8 weeks of taking a weekly mega-dose.
    1906 days ago
    very interesting, I do take calcium with Vitamin D, but have no idea if I am getting enough, I will ask to have mine checked also, and I do realize that with most people on a hmo insurance companies do not want you to ask for too much, or it will be added out of pocket, but after reading your blog, sounds important. Thanks for the heads up
    1906 days ago
    I take Vitamin D every winter, but I forgot to start taking it this winter, so thanks for reminding me!
    1906 days ago
    My levels were good last time I got them checked, but good for you for getting it checked. As a side note, the 15 minutes that you spend in the sun should be without sunscreen in order to absorb the Vitamin D.
    1906 days ago
    My OB/GYN doctor told me at my last check-up that 95% of pregnant mothers and their older children that were tested in his office came up deficient in vitamin D, and we live in Texas! He is now telling ALL of his patients to begin taking 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day. He says that D3 is critical in the absorption of calcium, which can be pivotal in avoiding osteoporosis in women. I haven't noticed any physical changes since I added that to my diet about 3 months ago, but I'm all for avoiding bone decay!
    1906 days ago
    I have been meaning to get mine checked, the last time I asked my doctor to check it she said it is a given that it will be low living in Michigan, so she wouldn't check it. I am going to insist this time.

    Thank you for posting the information. Hope you get yours at the right levels soon.
    1906 days ago
    Wow - glad you caught this. I really should get mine checked too.
    1906 days ago
  • AJB121299
    1906 days ago
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