The Vitamin D Dilemma
Around 4 years ago, I got some bloodwork done at the doctor’s office for the first time in a few years and found out that I was seriously deficient in Vitamin D. They told me my levels were so low that I had to go on a Vitamin D prescription of 50,000 IUs (that’s a TON) and that I should sit outside without sunscreen for 10 minutes a day.
All my life I’ve avoided the sun whenever I could. I just don’t like the way it makes me feel to sit outside in the sunlight, not to mention intense sunlight makes my eyes hurt and enough of it will give me a headache. I’m an indoors person, there’s no question about it. At the time, I figured that was all there was to it.
Then, a year later, my brother found out he was also vitamin D deficient. Then, my friend K. After another year, I met D, and a few months into our time dating, his doctor also told him that he needed to take supplements because of low levels. And if that wasn’t enough, around a year ago, his SISTER also got the same news.
What the heck was going on? Some of these people (especially my friend K) were sun lovers and did lots of outdoor activities.
Well, all of these people have something in common: we all grew up in Massachusetts and have lived here pretty much all of our lives. It is a well known fact that in New England, winter weather lasts at least 6 months, and there is little chance of doing anything fun outdoors most of that time.
According to this article:
Vitamin D can be produced in the skin from ultraviolet light. In the northern latitudes (such as New England), the intensity of the UV rays is only strong enough to create vitamin D for us in the summer months. For much of the year (about October through April), then, we need to get vitamin D from other sources. Even in the summer, using sunscreen, covering up with clothing, and spending time indoors can reduce the chance of us getting adequate vitamin D.
Since, that day 4 years ago, I’ve taken vitamin D gummy vitamins every day. They’re tasty and easy to just chew and go every morning. I still don’t spend much time out in the sun because there is a delicate balance here: too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer and other issues while too little leads to a vitamin D deficiency. My skin is pale as can be, so I’m at an even greater risk of skin cancers and will burn easily in the summer.
I think the thing that alarmed me the most about these revelations over the past few years is that there is almost no one I know who’s my own age that also grew up in Mass that doesn’t have this issue. I wonder how widespread it really is!
The bottom line is: I’d highly recommend anyone living in the northeast get their vitamin D levels checked out. It’s worth it!
For more information on Vitamin D and why we need it, check out this link: Vitamin D
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