As fall is approaching and the days are getting shorter. Are you making time for some fun in the sun?
About nine months ago I woke up feeling wiped out, my whole body ached like I wrestled with someone during the night and lost. I started to think of ominous conditions that run in my family- Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. I quickly made an appointment to see my primary care physician. After I received results of my thorough examination and blood work I was relieved to learn everything was normal, except that I was Vitamin D deficient! I live in sunny southern California and I am deficient from something I can get outside for free? I thought that between driving, walking in my neighborhood, and playing with my kid in the park that I should be getting more than the recommended amount of Vitamin D from sun exposure each day. I was wrong.
Dealing with a Vitamin D deficiency seemed more like suffering from chronic disease than dealing with a temporary condition. I felt like something was terribly wrong. I was fatigued, suffered from aches and pains, and even at times felt depressed. It clearly infringed on the normal activities of my daily life. Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
The normal level for Vitamin D is between 30-100 ng/ml, and my test registered at a level 13 ng/ml. To treat my Vitamin D deficiency my doctor prescribed a mega dose of 50,000 International Units of Vitamin D weekly for 3 months. After a few weeks I was feeling significantly better, and even had more energy. When I returned for a follow-up visit to my doctor I had my Vitamin D level re-checked, and it came up to 20! Although this was an improvement, it was still on the lower end of normal. Not being one to rest on my blood test laurels I wanted to bring it up even higher. So this summer I decided to do something radically different, and even considered dangerous by many in the medical field. I stopped using sunscreen. This still makes my fair skinned husband and friends cringe, but I was determined to bring my Vitamin D level up. To keep sun damage to a bare minimum I did try to avoid the peak hours of dangerous UV exposure, and would wear my Hollywood sunglasses and hat when I ventured in the sun. Throughout the summer I definitely soaked in some unfiltered UV rays. It appears this is just what I needed. I am happy to report that my Vitamin D level has come up to an optimal level of 42 ng/ml. I plan on maintaining this achievement with healthy doses of sunshine, and will keep a check on my Vitamin D level by getting it assessed during my routine yearly wellness exam.
As we get older our body is not as efficient in synthesizing Vitamin D. I thought I was getting enough sunshine in southern California, but perhaps in the effort to prevent skin damage, skin cancer, and wrinkles I slathered on too much sunscreen and overestimated how much sun I was actually getting.
What about you? When was the last time you had your Vitamin D level checked?
Life in the Blue Zone