Sunlight and Supplements: Increasing Your Vitamin D Levels
Posted by Kate W on Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
My baby wakes up at around 5am. Luckily, my wonderful husband likes to get up really early in the morning, so he gets up with her and watches the news while administering her morning bottle. Monday through Friday, the two of them wake me up around 6:30am so I can take over the baby-wrangling while he gets ready for work. On Saturdays and Sundays though, he keeps her for a while longer, so I can sleep in until 8 or 9, which is a real luxury for the work-at-home mom.
This Saturday though, I was up and out the door by 7am. Alas, I wasn’t sneaking off for a glamorous spa day or anything else that would be worth getting up for. Instead, I was off to get some blood work done. I switched doctors a few months ago so that my husband and daughter and I could all have the same family physician, and we realized it had been several years since I had really gone through a complete physical. He sent me off to do a full workup, and when he reviewed my lab results, he discovered that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low.
Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that it is naturally present in very few foods. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t readily available, though. Sun exposure will actually create Vitamin D in your body when the ultraviolet rays from the sun hit your skin and trigger Vitamin D synthesis. Since I live in Florida, you’d think I would have an overabundance of Vitamin D in my system, but I’m married to a pale redhead and mother to an infant. As a result, many of our family activities take place inside.
You might think: how bad is it really that you’re only deficient in one vitamin? It’s honestly not the worst thing to be deficient in, but it does have some frightening long-term implications. Vitamin D’s major function is to aid in the absorption of calcium, which helps us build stronger bones. Keeping up adequate Vitamin D levels may fight off osteoporosis. Women are more likely to get osteoporosis which puts me at risk anyway, and I have genetic factors on top of that. I have chronic musculoskeletal pain which is often a sign of osteomalacia, a condition endemic in adults with low Vitamin D levels, and I’ve had stress fractures in the past which could also be from a lack of Vitamin D. In addition Vitamin D may help fight off high blood pressure, cancer, and autoimmune disorders, all of which are in my family history. And finally, healthy levels of Vitamin D could aid in weight loss, which is something I have struggled with for years.
I’ve spent the last few months doing everything in my power to increase my Vitamin D levels. I’ve increased my intake of dietary sources, such as fish and eggs. I’m taking a vitamin supplement to boost my levels. And I’m making sure to go out and walk for 10-15 minutes every day in the sun. By attacking my deficiency from all angles, I hope that my follow-up blood work from this weekend will show much healthier levels of Vitamin D. It will make getting up earlier on my “day off” totally worth it.
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