Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"sunshine on my shoulders...

 ...makes me happy..." (John Denver)

Yesterday I went to see a new doctor who came highly recommended by a friend. I feel fortunate that, besides my yearly physical exam, I don't actually have to see doctors much (knock on wood). But when I do, I would like to see someone who puts me at ease and lets me ask whatever questions I have. This doctor turned out to be really sweet, and she made me feel that she was really devoting that hour to me.

After our conversation, she suspected that I may be vitamin D-deficient, which is actually a common condition for those living far away from the equator. I knew that vitamin D plays into our health and well-being in so many ways - from the health of our bones, muscles, and even our heart, to our affect, mood, and energy. I actually have stopped wearing sunblock or any products containing sunscreen for the past few years, for this very reason (and for the nasty chemicals that are in many sunscreen brands). Neither my job nor my lifestyle requires me to spend all day in the sun - in which case one should wear protective clothing, or be selective about sunscreen products. Here in Cleveland, where bright sunshine is not an everyday occurrence (to put it mildly), healthy sun exposure becomes even more important to me. Since I am naturally tan (genetics + growing up in the tropics), it actually takes larger doses of sun exposure for my body to generate vitamin D than fair-skinned people. Natural News is a great source on information on the topic, such as this article and this one.

It's funny that despite knowing these things, I feel like it only hit me when someone told me that I may be vitamin D-deficient. Of course, it takes a blood test to actually confirm it (which I will do sometime this week). But it may explain the things I'm feeling, rather than trying to convince myself that I'm only imagining it.

I believe that if we listen to our bodies, our bodies will tell us what we need. No wonder every time the sun has come out this winter, I jump at the chance to be outside to get some sun. Thankfully we've been having a mild winter (and I mean 40 degree weather in January and February - almost unheard of in my neck of the woods - which makes me a happy girl). So every chance I get I've been going outside, even to walk and do my errands. Unfortunately, I was told that only exposing the face, which is the only exposure I get in the winter, is not enough. Neither is sitting in a car or indoors by a window - because the glass blocks The UV rays. I would actually need to expose myself directly to the sun when the sun is at its peak while wearing shorts and a sleeveless top, for about 20 minutes (maybe more because of my tan skin). I get this easily in the summer months, but not for most of the year.

would love to be sun-kissed on a beach right now... (Source)

I wish we could have lots of sunshine for the most natural vitamin D, but I may have to resort to supplements to get my recommended 2,000 IUs. Vitamin D from food alone is not enough, as I learned from this article - plus many of these sources are not vegetarian. I've been trying to find supplements that are vegetarian (no gelatin) in case the blood test does confirm that I do need it.

Have you had your vitamin D levels checked? What are your thoughts on this? Are you as affected by the winter blues as I am?

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