© 2013 jen

Fit-tastic Update: Vitamin D and Feeling Fantastic

As many of you already know my Fit-tastic Updates are about me updating people on my health, and my journey through Celiac disease, which I lived with for years, mostly without stomach aches for most of my life. Although I didn’t have stomach problems for most of my life, I had tons of secondary health issues. I had asthma, weird patches of dry skin, I felt tired all the time and as time went by, I was really beginning to have the sensation that something was super wrong with me.

I remember thinking one day that I felt like I was being poisoned – like my life-essence was being taken from me.

Turns out I was. It’s just that I was doing it to myself by eating foods that were totally toxic to me. I’m specifically intolerant of gluten, but there were other foods that I was eating that weren’t really working for me, but I was so toxified that I couldn’t tell what was making me sick and what wasn’t. That’s what happens when the gut gets really sick, it can either respond to everything you eat, or strangely enough when there is lots of inflammation you cannot even feel or tell what’s creating it. It takes total removal of all allergens for at least 30 days and then you have to slowly reintroduce foods and only then, if you’re a highly inflamed person, can you tell what is creating that inflammation.

In a future post I’ll talk more about inflammation, but right now I want to share some info with you about vitamin D.

Most people living in Oregon have a least a little bit of a vitamin D deficiency. For some it’s just a little and for others it’s a lot and it can affect your daily functioning.

Here’s a list of the folks most likely to have low vitamin D levels:

  • People who are lactose intolerant
  • Some vegetarians
  • Overweight people (body fat seems to interfere with vit. D absorbsion)
  • People living in less sunny environments (Oregonians)
  • People with dark skin
  • People who move from a sunnier environment to a less sunny one (Transplants from say, Cali to Oregon)
  • Excessive use of sunblock use
  • People with digestive problems (<–ME!!)
  • People with chronic kidney problems

How can low vitamin D affect you? Here’s an extensive list of the diseases associated with low vitamin D.

Here’s a list of symptoms associated with low vitamin D:

  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings and depression
  • General fatigue and body aches
  • Hearing loss
  • Sleep disorders
  • Severe premenstrual symptoms
  • Low immunity
  • Dental problems

I’m not kidding you, I had most of these symptoms for most of my life. I had no idea they were all connected.

I want to zero in on the depression symptoms for a minute because it seems that vitamin D affects a person’s serotonin levels as an antidepressant would. It’s very common that people suffering from depression also have low vitamin D. It’s recommended that anyone taking an antidepressant or feeling depressed be tested because getting a leg up with your vitamin D can completely change your brain functioning. It might not completely alleviate the depression, but it can help dramatically.

Here’s the really important thing to understand about low vitamin D. If you suspect you have low D, or if you’re suffering from some combination of the symptoms above, you probably have low vitamin D.

Many people think that they can just take a vitamin D supplement to remedy this issue, but the issue is that depending how low your vitamin D is, the dosage you’re taking may or may not be enough to correct the problem.

My story

I went to have my vitamin D levels checked after I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, because I’m in a high risk category due to my digestive problems. My doctor told me that my vitamin D levels should be between 35-100. I had a blood test done and the results came back that my vitamin D level was 17 about half where they should be.

IMG_4723

I was put on a dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D by my doctor. I took 2 pills a week for 3 months to get my levels where they should be. Most people, when they buy supplements for vitamin D are buying either 2,000 IU or up to 5,000.

If you’re very vitamin D deprived taking the over the counter dose isn’t enough.

This is why seeing a doctor and having your vitamin D levels checked is so important. You must establish a baseline to know where you’re starting so that you can know where you need to go to.

For people without insurance, you could try doubling up on your D vitamins, but again, you really have no idea where you’re starting from or heading to if you don’t have a doctor involved helping you figure it all out.

When I was put on the vitamin D it was as if I went from living in a Charlie Chaplin film to being atop a mountain – singing and twirling – Sound of Music style. It was dramatic and extreme how different I felt. I felt stronger, happier, with no aches and pains, which living with pain was normal for me and all of this happened within about 2 weeks or 4 pills. That’s how extremely different proper vitamin D levels made for me.

the-sound-of-music

I just had my vitamin D levels rechecked. My doctor told me that if I was under 25 she was going to put me back on the 50,000 IU for another 3 months. They called me right away, about two hours after I was tested, but my day had been busy and I couldn’t get back to them in time.

I’ve had the doctor call me right away before and most of the time it means there’s bad news to be shared, or at least that has been my experience so far. All weekend I kept thinking, that my vitamin D levels could still be low and the bigger implications of what that might mean, but then pushing it aside because I didn’t want to dwell on things I didn’t know for sure and couldn’t change anyway.

So, Monday morning of this week, I called my doctor at 8am to find out where I was at with my vitamin D. I talked to a nurse who read me the results. She said, “Hey, look at this? Your vitamin D level is 48. Whatever you’ve been doing, keep it up. You’re well within the normal range!”

You know the bigger implications that I mentioned before?  Well, let me explain that. Of course I’m happy that my vitamin D levels are normal now, but more importantly these healthy levels indicate that my digestive system is kicking some serious ass and is able to fully absorb nutrients in a way that it never has been before!!

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

This number is really one of the first signs that my digestive system is operating full steam ahead.

More signs of health. I love it. I don’t think I’d be anywhere close to as healthy if I would have tried to figure out my vitamin D levels on my own.

 I make suggestions all the time on my blog for optimal health, but this one I’m not just suggesting, I’m really imploring you. Low vitamin D can seriously affect your quality of life and most Oregonians are a lot to a little depleted in this area.

For some, low vitamin D can lead to suicidal ideation. Low vitamin D is a VERY BIG DEAL! I cannot emphasis how important getting your vitamin D levels checked by a doctor is and how majorly it can contribute to a person’s functioning in the world.

So now the $10,000 question: who’s going to set up a doctor’s appointment to see where their vitamin D levels are at?

For those with insurance this should be a no-brainer. For those without, I just Googled blood testing for vitamin D. The cost is anywhere between $50-$100 to pay for it out of pocket. If you’re low in vitamin D, you don’t need the prescription, you can take extra over the counter vitamin D. The doctor can recommend the right IU dosage. This test is doable for everyone and healthy vitamin D levels are essential to overall health.

Make a doctor appointment today. It could change your life in a matter of  a few weeks.

Comments

comments