Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Little Bit About Vitamin D!

This is a bit of a random post, but something I thought would be good to share because of some recent events and the fact I was totally clueless! Here is a little about vitamin D.

I didn't really understand what vitamin D is, where it comes from (other than the sun), or what life would be like without it. I know we are told all the time how important the 'sunshine vitamin' is to our children, but I've never really been sure why or thought how it could affect me too.

I've recently suffered with bouts of pain which radiated from my bones, particularly in my shins, shoulders, hands and hips. I was terrified to get checked out, knowing it could easily be something really serious. Two friends lost their cancer battles recently and I think of it constantly. I spoke to a doctor who felt that with the symptoms I had, that I had better get checked out and go for some blood tests, terrifying.

This week I had the tests which were thankfully back in less than 24 hours which put a stop to my Google searches and over active imagination! To my surprise I was told that I had a pretty serious vitamin D deficiency. I was so relieved that it was nothing serious, but also relieved that it was something too. Had it been nothing, then I would just have to live with feeling this rubbish, but as there is a problem, there is a cure - so I can begin my prescribed doses and hopefully feel better in a few weeks. Hoorah!

Just for the sake of sharing how stupid the Internet can be, my symptoms on a Google search showed that I had most likely bone cancer, ME or a virus. It's always best to get checked out properly!

I thought I would find out a little more about Vitamin D and why it is so important for us. Hopefully, this will help others that may fall into the same deficiency. I have a pretty healthy and varied diet so I was really surprised to be lacking in something. I am still my feeding baby so wondered if that was affecting my levels too.

Why do we need Vitamin D?

It's important to keep up our levels of vitamin D to help absorb calcium and phosphorus, to keep our teeth and bones healthy. It scares me how much pain could come from something so simple, I'll be taking more care of myself in future and remembering the kids vitamins too!

Good sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, but it is also found in foods like oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals. Sunshine is our main source, though how long to spend safely in the sun varies from person to person depending on their skin. For fair skinned people like me (think milky bar kid!), 10 - 15 minutes would be the recommended time to spend in the sun as it isn't long enough to burn but enough time to absorb all the goodness. People with darker skin need to spend longer in the sun to absorb the same Vitamin D, finally a good excuse to be pale! The more skin exposed, the more vitamins you absorb, so basically we need to have a good ten minutes naked sunbathing every day in summer, that's me sold! (Sorry neighbours). In the winter, our sun in the UK doesn't supply enough UVB radiation to give us vitamin D, so this is a good time to eat extra healthily and maybe take additional supplements. I'm putting this as another tick in the emigration box too!

Who does this affect?

Apparently pregnant and breastfeeding women are susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency, this would explain things for me (breastfeeding NOT pregnant)! It also mainly affects babies and children from 6 months to five years. Older people aged 65 and over. People that are indoors a lot or keep in the shade or well covered up - this is me!
I always took vitamins while I was pregnant, but this time didn't continue them afterwards, I have no idea why. It is important to keep your vitamin stores up while you're pregnant though so that your baby is born with enough to see them through their first few months. 

You can buy over the counter supplements too, but it's always worth talking to your doctor first!

Thanks for reading,