Monday, February 15, 2010

Vitamin D, the Miracle Drug

For the last few months, my energy level has been l-o-w, low. If I am going to keep this blog up to its name, I need to fix this! :)

After we had the triplets, as they were babies, we had a system that allowed us both to get 6 hours of sleep each night, so we wouldn't start dropping baby bottles, or Heaven-forbid - babies. :) And it worked - even though I am a girl who just simply needs 8 hours of I believe it's written into my DNA. So, I was tired all the time. But hey - we had infant triplets! That was normal tired.

The last few months, as the kids are now nearing 3 years old, I have never felt this tired in my life. My life! :) WAY more tired than when they were babies...and that's not normal tired anymore. I get at least 8 hours every night, sometimes more...and I am always dragging my sorry behind out of bed when I hear the kids waking up and starting to make a ruckus (translation: gleefully crib jumping). I crave naps, I nod off when I am feeding them lunch and also singing them lullabies at night - last night they started yelling at me, and I realized I had nodded off during a weak rendition of Baby Mine in the rocking chair... so, it's a serious problem for me! I am having trouble functioning. And this is with my normal schedule! Add in any event, party, etc...and I can't even make it home without falling asleep in the car. Sad. :) Good thing the Monk drives us home!

Asking my doctor about it before Christmas, he took bloodwork and I was low in the B12 area, so a shot was administered. I said a silent hallelujah, since Christmas always took it out of me! He thought the shot would fix it, and he said, I quote, "the pep would be back in my step". such luck. No pep in steps here! Unless it's the steps walking toward the bedroom and my heavenly micro fleece sheets. I think I tried to sleep an extra couple of days after Christmas this year.

Still dragging a month after the B12 shot, I went off a temporary mood medication I was taking that listed drowsiness as a side effect. And that did help considerably!'s still here. A month after that.

I remembered a few weeks ago that the doctor had also mentioned Vitamin D. He wanted me to start taking it, since I am a hermit - especially during the winter - no sun - no Vitamin D production - no energy - bad moods. I am a horrible pill taker (they get stuck in my throat), so I kind of circumvented this advice, and was taking a pill or two sporadically, whenever I remembered his advice and was brave enough to choke a few down. I thought there was almost enough in my chewable multivitamin. I must also mention here that I am not one to take pills to "fix" me - I would much rather eat the right foods, exercise or "do something" myself that a pill could do for me. I just don't like having to rely on medication or supplements to "fix me" unless I absolutely have to.

BUT.....Doing a bunch of research, I am starting to realize what a miracle pill this may just be for me, for everyone really! First doc recommended 3,000 IUs (3 pills) a day. I bought a bottle and looking at the back, it (the gov't) recommends 1,000 IUs....hmmm. I started worrying that I heard him wrong.

Talking to OB/GYN doc a few days ago, she recommended 6,000 IUs!!! Only on a temporary basis, say 3 months, to catch up and replenish my stores. Then back down to 2-4,000 IUs. Wow.

Never one wanting to blindly ingest a possible overdose, I consulted my friend, the Internet. She (yes, she - only a she could be that connected) confirmed to me many times that both my doctors were correct. She is smart. :)

From Dr. Lipman: "[T]aking the right amount is crucial; most doctors tend to underdose. The current recommendations from the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, from 200 to 600 IU a day depending on one’s age, are way too low." Interesting.

Surprising fact: Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, it's a hormone (Woo-hoo! I smell answers here!). Your body cannot actually manufacture vitamins, but it can manufacture hormones. We can make Vit. D with exposure to the sun, so it's classified as a hormone. And it's a mood altering hormone. Hmm. I am deficient in a hormone? I wonder if that's relevant to my mild bi-polar? (*jumping up and down, doing the happy dance*)

According to this article on Tonic, a very handy Doctor-written Vitamin D FAQ, most of the world is now facing a deficiency epidemic. People can manufacture 20,000 IUs in their own body with about 20 minutes of sunshine exposure. 20,000! Crazy. And the important word there is exposure...with the advent of sunscreen, most people do not go out unprotected at all anymore. And sitting in front of a sun-filled window will not do it, since the necessary UV rays are filtered before they even reach you. Interesting, huh? And the 20 minutes will only be good enough if you are not deficient. You need more, obviously, if you are.

Here in the winter it is even harder to gain the 20 minutes-of-unprotected-skin-exposure-a-day, especially in a snow town in the Northeast, where the sun is a commodity sometimes not seen for weeks at a time. So, based on that, I can pretty much tell you without a doctor's help that I know I am Vitamin D deficient, the hermit that I am (we are). :) And this was an interesting tidbit along that vein, which surprised me! From Dr. Frank Lipman: "If you live north of 37 degrees latitude (approximately a line drawn horizontally connecting Norfolk, Va. to San Francisco, Calif.) sunlight is not sufficient to create vitamin D in your skin in the winter months, even if you are sitting in the sun in a bathing suit on a warm January day! The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D." Darn! I had that in the plan, to go out in the 20 deg. weather, sunbathing. Now you're telling me it won't even work?! lol

He also recommends a balance of sun, like everything in life: moderation is the key. "Too much sun exposure can cause melanoma and skin aging, while too little creates an inadequate production of vitamin D. The amount needed depends on the season, time of day, where you live, skin pigmentation and other factors. As a general rule, if you are not vitamin D deficient, about 20 minutes a day in the spring, summer and fall, on your face and arms or legs without sunscreen is adequate. It doesn’t matter which part of the body you expose to the sun. Many people want to protect their face, so just don’t put sunscreen on the other exposed parts for those 20 minutes. [Note: Remember to take antioxidants when you sit in the sun, as these can help prevent skin cells from sun damage.]"

From the Tonic article mentioned above, one of many that has turned me into a believer...:

"What does vitamin D do?
Like all steroid hormones, vitamin D is involved in making hundreds of enzymes and proteins, which are crucial for preserving health and preventing disease. It has the ability to interact and affect more than 2,000 genes in the body. It enhances muscle strength and builds bone. It has anti-inflammatory effects and bolsters the immune system. It helps the action of insulin and has anti-cancer activity. This is why vitamin D deficiency has been linked with so many of the diseases of modern society. Because of its vast array of benefits, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D is essential for your health.

What are the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

There is no clear pattern of symptoms. In fact many people remain asymptomatic despite low levels. But here are some of the more common symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • General muscle pain and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation or diarrhea"

I can check off a few on that list! Instead of making me sad about that, this inspired me. If a deficiency can cause all that, if I catch up, can/will they all go away? I'm willing to try!

Even better, there is a study that was presented to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists that reports Vitamin D is linked to better weight loss. They think the more D that is in your system before weight loss starts results in more abdominal fat lost...but also a weight loss endeavor that is done with the help of Vitamin D supplementation will result in more (faster) weight lost in the end. I think I will be adding this one to my arsenal and see what happens.

Funny, other articles mention that you can get Vitamin D from foods like eggs or milk or salmon...but then, you'd have to eat 150 egg yolks every day, 3 3/4 lbs of salmon or 20 cups of fortified milk. No thanks. I think I'll take the sun! And if that isn't available...I can choke down the miracle pills. :) I'll check in on this topic every month now to report how I feel with the new supplement - I have a "good feeling" about this! A corrected deficiency that can regulate my mood without medication, can prevent a myriad of diseases, can give me "pep in my step", can help me lose weight, can make me feel good and focused? I'd call that a miracle pill. :)

One more note, and then I am off to take my 13 pills today (a regimen started: 5 Vitamin D, 4 Fish Oil, 1 Multivitamin, 1 Vitamin C, 2 calcium chews (which have 500 IUs of D in them already, so that's 1 pill for me. Thankfully the mutivitamin, calcium and the C are chewable... I am on the lookout to make them all that way... :)) ......Vitamin D3 is the active form of Vitamin D and should be the one we take (not D2) since it is the most safe and effective form for our bodies. Just FYI!

Never thought I would say this... but, if it's all about fixing a Vitamin D deficiency.... happy pill taking!


  1. What are your energy levels like today since you have been on vitamin D?
    I took vitamin D prescribed by my doctor 50,000 IU once a week back in Feb of '10 for 12 weeks. Looking back I felt better, more energy and was WAY less moody. Once my prescription was empty I failed to go back and get a refill (kicking myself). I went to the Dr. again today to find out my Vitam D levels are again.......LOW. Low is described as being at a 30, I was at a 12. I started the prescription Vitamin D again today and CANNOT wait to start feeling myself.

  2. Almost two years later... how are you feeling? What did your levels get up to? How long did it take (weeks... months) Have your symptoms resolved

  3. I am also interested to know what your results were. Any improvement? Updates, please. :-)

  4. Maybe that explains why cholesterol-lowering medication, on average, been shown to have significantly poorer sex life . Although vitamin D is a steroid hormone produced by cholesterol spring valley vitamins


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  7. I was placed on 50,000 units per week three months ago and within two weeks felt my energy level improve. Since then, it has improved even more and I feel like a human being again. I used to drag myself out of bed even though I slept well. I kept comparing myself to my 88 year old father and thinking I looked and felt like I was at least 90. I'm back to feeling like I'm 40 again. Wonderful stuff! I just finished the prescription of the 50,000 units and I'm now on 2000 milligrams per day and I'm going to do my best to get outside this winter everyday for some real sunshine.


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