It inevitably happens to many of us. The winter starts to drag, we start to stay inside, we get unmotivated, sometimes feel depressed. This is what is often referred to as the winter blues. But it might be something more. You might have a Vitamin D deficiency. Late fall into winter is the time of year Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise. It’s cold and people aren’t venturing outside as often (at least in the midwest). The days are shorter and unless you have an outside job, you’re probably stuck in your office or away from windows during most of the daylight hours. A vitamin D deficiency had never crossed my mind until I found out I had a pretty severe one. I am curious by nature, so I started researching vitamin D deficiency and was pretty surprised by what I learned.
As mentioned in my first post, I have depression. I have struggled with it for most of my life but I was officially diagnosed with Severe Depression in about 2008. Twice my doctor and I have to a point where we were comfortable weaning me off of my medicine. Each time I’ve been able to go a few years and then I spiral down into another serious depression. After which, I end up back on my medicine. In September or October 2017, I had a breakdown. This one was worse than any I had in the past and back on my medicine I went. This time I won’t be weaning off. I’ve decided that being on medicine helps me be consistent and it helps me give the best me to everyone.
After my 2017 breakdown and being back on my medicine for about three months I was feeling good emotionally. However, I was always exhausted so when I went in for my annual physical I talked to my doctor about the exhaustion and she had my vitamin D was tested. I was quite surprised when the results came back and I saw how severely low in my levels were. The doctor prescribed three months of 50,000 IU of Vitamin D a week and had me return for re-check just before the prescription ran out. Thankfully, after the initial three months, my levels were within range. I was, however, advised to continue to supplement with at least 1,000 IU Vitamin D3.
Creating Our Own Deficit
In this day and age, we take a lot for granted. We are relatively disease free thanks to vaccinations. Technology has simplified life and brought much right to our fingertips. We can order meal kits to be delivered, groceries to be picked up or delivered, or even full meals to be delivered to our door. If we’re not feeling good, most times, a doctor can give us a prescription to fix what ails us. Because life is so ‘simplified’, we sometimes forget that what we do, or lack of what we do can be adversely affecting our health. One thing that is very important to our health is Vitamin D and if I were to guess, I’d imagine almost no one even thinks about this vitamin. But it really is something we should pay attention to for two reasons.
#1- Vitamin D is vital to our bodies functioning correctly
#2- you are likely reducing your exposure to Vitamin D and don’t realize it.
What Vitamin D Does
Originally Vitamin D was linked to the body’s ability to absorb calcium. It keeps bones from getting brittle, soft and deformed. Vitamin D is also important to healthy immunity. Additionally, low Vitamin D is shown to have links to diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and autoimmune disease.
Why am I at risk
- Not eating enough foods with Vitamin D
- Not getting enough outside exposure to the sun (5-30 min per day- glass blocks what you need from the sun)
- Using sunscreen (blocks UVB rays of the sun we need a little each day)
- People with darker skin need 25 times more exposure to the sun than a light skinned person
- People with Liver or Kidney issues (The liver stores vitamin D and the kidney activates it)
- Living in the North US and Canada because there are fewer daylight hours
- Elderly- Thinner skin can lead to less Vitamin D production
- Breastfed Babies- If mom is low on Vitamin D baby may be too
- Pregnant women
- Obese persons
- Some medicines can interfere with the absorption or production of Vitamin D
Not everyone actually shows symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency. When they do, some of the symptoms may be:
- General aches and pains
- Feeling ‘Blue’
More severe deficiencies sometimes show the following symptoms.
- Bone Pain
- Muscle weakness
- Getting sick more often
Ways to Increase
There are several ways you can increase your vitamin D. The easiest thing, in my opinion, is to get outside more and when you do, don’t forget the sunscreen, but give yourself at least 30 minutes with no sunscreen on so your skin can absorb the much-needed UVB rays. You can add foods that naturally have Vitamin D in it to your diet. You can eat fatty fish, such as Tuna, Salmon, and Mackerel. Other foods would be beef liver (although not sure I could eat this one), cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks. Adding vitamin D fortified foods is also a good idea. Milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice, dairy products such as yogurt, and soy products are just some examples.
Additionally, you can supplement Vitamin D3. This is one method I use. The supplement I take combines both D and K2 because, in my research, I read of some benefits to combining the two. In the simplest form, vitamin D is what your body uses to help absorb the calcium, but vitamin K2 is what tells your body where to put the calcium. I won’t go into the specifics of this as it would be a whole other posting. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your levels of vitamin D. There is a simple blood test that can be taken to determine if you are deficient or not. After that if supplementation is needed, you can discuss with your doctor if should supplement with D3 alone or with K2.
For further information regarding Vitamin D and Vitamin K2, please see my references below. They are a great starting point for your research.