My mother is the latest in her family to be diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D, to recap what we learned in health class, is the “Sunshine Vitamin.” Our bodies need D to help absorb Calcium and to strengthen our immune systems.
But sufficient D isn’t readily available from the foods we eat. And worldwide, a D deficiency is recognized as a pandemic.
So why are we becoming D-deficient?
- We lather on sunscreen to block out the sun
- Some of us are darker-skinned
- Some eat vegetarian diets
- Some live way north of the equator
- Some are homebound
- Some cultures cover up in robes and such
- Some are obese
- Some are elderly
- Some have certain medical conditions
Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency can be fairly vague, leading one to assume everything is fine. Tiredness, general aches and pains, or nothing amiss at all can accompany a D deficiency.
But diagnosing it is simple via a blood test.
And the solution is just as simple — expose your bare skin to adequate sunlight every day, or take D supplements.
Vitamin D has been shown effective in reducing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), that feeling of the blues brought on by the shortened days of winter, when we’re stuck inside for days at a time thanks to the weather.
It’s also been shown beneficial for conditions ranging from acne to certain cancers, dental cavities to heart disease, diabetes to Parkinson’s Disease.
Before her diagnosis, Mom wasn’t in a good place. She was tired all the time, constantly running from one doctor to another because “something wasn’t right,” and generally preoccupied with death and illness.
A wise doctor put her on high doses of Vitamin D for six weeks, followed by more moderate maintenance doses on a permanent basis. And now she feels great!
One good thing about Vitamin D is that it’s pretty hard to get too much. You’d have to take 40,000 IU per day for several months to do that.
(Typical multivitamins contain 400 IU of Vitamin D. The Vitamin D Council recommends you take 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, especially on days when you don’t get sun exposure).
Vitamin D supplements generally are well-tolerated and don’t need to be taken with food. They come in tablets, soft-gels, gummies, liquid drops, and other formulations, and are available at drug stores or general merchandise (Wal-Mart) stores for a fairly reasonable price.
I’m not a doctor, and I know not all ills in life can be attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency, but it seems to me that if upping your dose of the “Sunshine Vitamin” can make you feel better (and possibly prevent certain diseases), wouldn’t it be prudent to try?
2) National Institutes of Health
3) Medicine Net
4) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
5) Web MD
Great post! It’s been a while since my college nutrition class and an even longer while since I got my medical degree (as in, never). I seem to recall the history of adding Vitamin D to milk was due at least in part to a study of the deficiency in Scotland (or some other northen location)? I wonder if avoiding milk is at play, too.
It is! Lots of people (Mom and me included) are lactose intolerant. And I understand plenty of young parents today are giving kids fruit juices (or colas!) in place of milk. No milk = no calcium. Bound to be good for our skeletal systems down the road. Thanks for stopping by!
If you remember I took Vitamin D shots last year and they absolutely made me feel more energetic. When the series of shots ended, I added the sunshine vitamin to my morning routine and it has made a long term difference to my overall health especially around my level of energy.
Happy to hear it has helped your Mom and thanks for sharing some facts I didn’t know! Currently, I feel like I am in a snow globe with buckets of snow falling and blowing. No real sunshine in sight…..
I didn’t remember you taking Vitamin D shots, but I’m glad it helped. Nothing much worse than dragging oneself through the day and night and feeling rotten, to boot!
Ah, Domer has told me about that snow globe effect. Up in The Land of the North, he’s really fed up with the cold. And the ice and snow. At least he gets to work from home some days, so there *is* that! Here’s hoping the sun will shine on us soon!
Yet another reason to appreciate my occupation. Spending nearly every day outdoors for hours at a time pretty much takes care of my need for vitamin D. Plus, I drink oodles of skim milk, and mostly don’t use sunscreen except on my face, so I’m taking in a lot. Maybe that has something to do with why I don’t get depressed. Sometimes I get frustrated with situations, or angry, or whatever – but moodiness and depression? Not so much.
(As for that non-sunscreen bit… Yes, I get checked every year or so by a dermatologist. No, I’ve never had to have any “sun spots” or cancers removed. Let’s hear it for genetics – and for the fact that I never laid out as a kid, and sunburned only a handful of times. The reason I don’t use it on my hands and arms is that even a smidgen of the stuff on the wood ruins any varnish I lay down. Can’t have that!)
You’re blessed to have such good genes, Linda! With my fair Irish skin, I always use sunscreen on my face, and Central Illinois winters (especially the one we’re having right now) keep us bundled in five layers of clothing! Then, my mom’s Italian side gave me lactose intolerance, so I haven’t had a glass of milk in years. I do take D supplements — I don’t know whether it helps or not, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t hurt. It’s no wonder I gravitate to sunny windows at home and the great outdoors when we’re in Mississippi!
“A wise doctor put her on high doses of Vitamin D for six weeks, followed by more moderate maintenance doses on a permanent basis. And now she feels great!”
Debbie, that is so GREAT hear! I’m glad that your mother is feeling better!
Ya know, I have to say that when I lived in Florida and was exposed to more consistent sunshine, it did give me more energy. Also, if I was ever sick with a cold, all I would have to do is sit outside in the sunshine for an hour every day, and voila…it dried up the cold and healed me.
Excellent post! Enjoyable to read and very informative. Thank you, my friend!
Have a super Monday!
YES!! Another true story from someone who’s experienced first-hand the benefits of moderate sunshine on the skin!
I didn’t realize sitting outside in the sun would dry up a cold. Of course, I usually get colds in the wintertime, when sitting outside is prohibitive, but I’ll have to remember that tip, Ron, because sunlight seems a friendlier cure than medicines!!
Glad you got something from my post (and that it wasn’t like reading a medical journal, ha!)
Happy Monday, my friend!
Interesting. So, vegetarians suffer from this?
Possibly. I’d hate to say ALL vegetarians might be Vitamin D deficient, but D is found in fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, fortified orange juice and cereals, etc., much of which vegetarians likely don’t eat. If they don’t get adequate amounts of sun, they very well could end up with a D deficiency. Besides, it’s hard for anybody to get enough D from food sources.
That’s very interesting. thanks!
Yes, Debbie, Vitamin D Deficiency is related to many diseases. The best part is it is easily correctable. It has become a standard of practice over the past few years for health providers to test for this. But people can ask for the test. I’m so happy your mom is feeling better. That’s the best testimony of all for getting Vitamin D levels checked!
It’s funny, Kathy, but I don’t know whether I’ve ever been tested for a Vitamin D deficiency. Now that I know it runs in my family, I’ll be more cognizant of that.
Thank you for confirming my research. As a former nurse, I imagine you saw first hand that patients presenting with certain conditions could find some help simply through the addition of a vitamin — what a relief to those of us who “don’t do medicines” well!!
Hope your mom is feeling better soon.
She’s amazingly better, Suzi. Thanks for sharing my concern! Guess her olive skin plus her age and her penchant for staying indoors in these cold months makes her prone to a D deficiency. I’m glad they found it and were able to address it.
I’m sorry, but this issue of which you write about does not compute. As someone who lives in “sunny” San Diego, in the “Golden” State, I do not understand the concept of having a vitamin D deficiency. Not when all I need do is walk outside. Thirty seconds later and I’ve had enough dose of sun to last a week! 🙂
Monica, you are doubly blessed — living where the climate is so friendly AND not having any idea that some of us don’t see the sun for weeks at a time!
Walking outside in the sun is a great way to get your Vitamin D. When we’re in Mississippi, I stay in the sun for as long as I can — every day I can — without getting a burn. There’s just something so soothing about Mother Nature’s kind side!
Deb…Vitamin D3 has changed my life!!!!! Most of my family takes it now. It’s amazing! Thanks soooo much for sharing this. It’s such a simple fix….and cheap too.
My father in law and His 2 sisters had a muscle disease that no one could figure out. I found out his daughter and my daughter are severely vitamin deficient. I think my father in law might have had a very severe form of vitamin deficiency. Vitamin b12 is another easy fix. All three were wheel chair bound and eventually died. This could have been a easy fix.
We have to help ourselves stay in the best of health the best way we can.
Tanya, thank you for confirming my research — it’s wonderful when my friends share their own true stories of how something as simple as adding a vitamin to their daily regimen can have such positive benefits!
I’m so glad you’re feeling better, my friend, but I’m sorry your relatives had to suffer. Yes, you’re right — it could have been an easy fix. It would seem modern medicine has a way to go to catch up with natural cures!
Interesting facts, Debbie. I’m glad your mom is feeling better!
My husband and I both came up vitamin D deficient on blood tests a couple years ago. My husband has an array of pills he has to take (thyroid, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) so he added D to his pill box. Me… well, I’m not a good patient because I don’t keep up with taking pills. I don’t get much unprotected exposure to the sun since I have many risk factors for skin cancer, so I guess, eventually, I’ll have to suck it up and get better about taking the vitamins 🙂
I won’t preach at you, Janna! I’m sure that, when you see how much better your husband is feeling, you might change your mind 😉 Taking a Vitamin D supplement is generally best for me, too, with my Irish skin, although little feels as good as being outside in the sunshine! I don’t generally like taking medicines (and don’t tolerate many medicines well), but D doesn’t seem to have any bad side effects, so it’s an easy thing to take every day.
this subject computes GREATLY w/ me. I have all of these symptoms and NEED sun so badly that I dream about it! My mother takes Vit D every day.Xxxx
Ah, Kim, perhaps you should jump on the Vitamin D bandwagon, too?? Living where you do must make it hard to get enough sunshine. I know that on sunny days, I curl up in one of our south-facing windows and just MELT there! I can’t keep Dallas with me (he doesn’t like to be hot), but oh, that sun feels soooo good!
I was taking it last winter, but stopped when spring and summer rolled around. Now with the neverending winter, I should start taking it again. Thanks for the reminder!
I’m glad to hear that your mom is feeling better!
Thanks, Terri. Mom really does feel better — surprisingly so. If I hadn’t seen the improvement for myself, I might not have believed it. I imagine all of us living in the northern half of the U.S. should add Vitamin D to our regimen (especially in the winter!). I love that it doesn’t have bad side effects, too.
Thank you, I have been diagnosed with severe iron and vit D deficiency. For a usually positive person, it has knocked the stuffing out of me. Found your article while writing my blog about it. Glad your mum’s feeling better. I’m looking forward to feeling better too. Blessings 🙂
I’m so glad to have been of help, Di! Yes, a Vitamin D deficiency will knock you off your feet. I’m glad your doctor diagnosed your trouble — good thing is, it’s a fairly easy solution! Best wishes that you’ll be back to your sunny self real SOON!