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Some surprising results from my physical

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I am Vitamin D deficient!
Vitamin D is known as "the sunshine vitamin", because your skin makes it when you're exposed to sunlight. You would think that someone who spends as much time outdoors as me would not be deficient! I've always heard that it only takes 15 minutes to get the recommended daily allowance. Perhaps this is why I have never taken vitamin D supplements (and I never drink milk).
Since learning my ACTUAL blood levels, I've been doing a lot of reading. It's clear that I was very underinformed about this.
First- without adequate vitamin D, you don't absorb calcium as well. At this point I should add that my calcium levels are fine. I've been taking a calcium/mineral supplement since I was a teen (about when I gave up milk). However, without vitamin D, I was probably not utilizing it well, and jeopardizing my bones anyway.
I learned that this deficiency can lead to a condition called osteomalacia, or a weakening of bones. Not good for anyone. Definitely not good for someone who likes to jog on isolated trails, by herself. I shudder to think of the times I have tripped and sprawled myself on the dirt. I'm glad I found out about this before I broke a bone.
As I continued reading more about vitamin D deficiency and osteomalacia, I realized that I've been having osteomalacia symptoms for about SIXTEEN YEARS.
So, what are the symptoms? When I read the words "widespread bone pain" it rang every mental alarm bell in my brain. I recall, very vividly, when this odd pain began, and at that time, wondering what could possibly cause my bones to ache. The sensation was not one I'd ever felt before, but there was definitely no other way to describe it: when your bones hurt, you know it. So for sixteen years, I've had persistant bone pain in my legs and hips, the whole time telling myself that it sucked getting older, and complaining to my husband about how much my leg bones hurt, and my hip hurt, when all I was doing was lying in bed.
I feel sooo soooo stupid to realize that this preventable condition has been progressing for so long.
My advice to everyone reading this: take a teaspoonful of cod liver oil every day. There aren't many really good food sources of vitamin D. That's why they started adding it to milk back in the 1940s (or thereabouts). You'd still have to drink a lot of milk to get enough, and even the best food sources don't supply much. But cod liver oil has TONS of vitamin D and you don't need very much, so DO IT. Please, no complaints about how bad it tastes. I promise the taste will not matter one bit when you're sixty years old and break a hip. Get past the fishiness and do this, okay? Sometimes, the old remedies are best.

So. I've decided to ask my doctor about getting a bone density test, and kind of dreading the results.

Now... there might be some good news... the doctors don't all agree on this one.
My resting heart rate is 52. Yay, right? That means my heart is well-exercised because I regularly engage in challenging cardiovascular workouts.
Well, they have some issues with that number because until I'm below 186 lbs, my BMI is still just high enough to be in the obese range. So according to them, a resting heart rate under 60 is called "sinus bradycardia" and in heavy people, may indicate an "underlying issue". Humbug.
I'm sure it's because they just don't want an obese person with osteomalacia to faint and fall down a flight of stairs.

P.S. We're well on the way to the weight goal.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don't beat yourself up about the vitamin D issue. Only recently have they discovered the link between D and a lot of other issues (depression, cancer, calcium absorption, etc). Now you know so you can do something about it.

    Also, a RHR of 52 is awesome! My RHR is extremely high, esp. for someone who exercises as much as I do. Perhaps part of the reason why yours is so low even though you are technically "obese" is that you have lost such a great deal of weight? Maybe if 186 was your normal weight, a low RHR would be a cause of concern, but since it's lower than your weight for a good deal of your adult life, in addition to being just a number on the way down, it is truly a low RHR?

    At any rate, no falling down the stairs! :D
    2934 days ago
    You know, I also show up with low D in my blood - seriously, someone who lives in the tropics and walks around outside without sunscreen is D deficient??? So I take fish liver capsules - which has the side benefit of lowering cholesterol (mine went up with menopause).

    The bone density test is easy - what do they do if it turns out you have the osteomalacia thing? Is there a treatment? Good luck with all of that!

    And yes, very few drs know what to do with an overweight person who is also physically fit! Because they think the weight affects EVERYTHING, when in fact some of the numbers are good because that person exercises and eats well.
    2935 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Best wishes for your regaining your Vit D back to normal levels and continued success with the other aspects of your wellness program. emoticon emoticon
    2935 days ago
  • MKATE88
    I'd heard that 15 minutes of sun was enough! Thanks for sharing your knowledge; not looking forward to the cod liver oil, but we have to take care of ourselves!
    2935 days ago
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