“How is that even possible? I just got back from 3 months at the South coast of Spain?”
At that time I was living in the Netherlands and had been traveling to the sun in winter time. I was in the GP’s office to get the results of my general medical test and just didn’t understand how I could have a Vitamin D deficiency despite a lot of sun I had been in.
The doctor explained to me that an aging skin does not absorb as much Vitamin D as a younger skin and suggested taking supplements. Until then, I was very reluctant to take any supplement at all. I thought that a healthy diet should be sufficient.
Well, it was my choice; to stubbornly follow my original beliefs or to look at the scientific results and act accordingly.
Table of contents
Why do we even need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from food or supplements into the body. Making it important for the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. In addition, vitamin D plays a role in the proper functioning of the muscles. And even more important is its effect on the function of the immune system.
At the time of writing this, half the world is under the spell of the COVID-19 virus. And I keep wondering why there is so little attention from the governments in a healthy lifestyle in general and the immune system in particular.
We still don’t know much about the virus, but we do know that many of the people who died were overweight and a lot were already suffering from chronic diseases. All the more reason for me to give extra attention to my immune system.
Not that I am overweight, nor do I have any disease. I am doing my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle, although at times the anxiety around the virus gets to me and makes me lose my positivity.
Who is at Risk of a Vitamin D Deficiency?
The following groups are at a higher risk of insufficient Vitamin D levels:
- Elderly and aging people
- People who are overweight or obese
- Those who live in areas where the sun doesn’t shine much
- People with a dark skin
- The ones who don’t eat enough fish or dairy
- Those who are always indoors
- People who always apply sunscreen
I am a true believer of informing myself as much as I can (aren’t we lucky we live in the time of the internet?) and gaining knowledge by testing. So I want to suggest you to get a general medical test if you think you might have a Vitamin D deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
- Pain in joints and muscles even without pressure;
- Get injured by a push or bump;
- Muscle tremors or cramps;
- Waking up sweaty at night due to anxiety attacks or nightmares;
- Hyperventilation in stressful situations;
- Hypersensitive or bleeding gums.
According to Gert Schuitemaker, a Dutch pharmacist and orthomolecular doctor, the risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases is reduced by taking vitamin D.
In earlier research, he explained how people with a vitamin D deficiency can protect themselves against osteoporosis, cancer and cardiovascular disease. And possibly also against diabetes, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis, depression and tuberculosis.
Schuitemaker believes that the recommended daily allowance of 10mcg vitamin D should be increased to 25mcg in ‘normal’ times as soon as possible.
In this COVID-19 time it should even be 75mcg because of the positive impact of vitamin D on the immune system.
Testing is important to gain knowledge
When I first took a general medical test I was 63 and I regret I waited that long. The main reason was that I don’t like to visit a doctor. Why would I ask for a test when I am healthy?
But if I had been tested more often and from a younger age on, I would have known much better what ‘is part of me’ and what is different from previous results.
Nowadays I have a test at least once a year.
What strikes me – I am living in Spain nowadays – is that the way of presenting test results and the recommended values differ from country to country. And also from lab to lab. This makes it hard to decide what the right values are.
For me this means that we have to stay critical about results and to keep on educating ourselves.
Food with Loads of Vitamin D
At the end of the conversation with my GP about my vitamin D deficiency, I asked him which food contains a natural supply of Vitamin D. His reply was “none”. Say what?
A lot of doctors only want to know about the benefits of pharmaceutical medication and not about ‘food as medication’. What struck me most was that the GP was very young. I expected that the present training institutes would be aware by now of the benefits of prevention instead of waiting for someone to become ill.
Thank goodness there is a lot of food that contains Vitamin D. Unless all the food agencies and nutritionists are lying of course. 🙂
- Fatty fish, also great for providing omega 3. For instance wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and canned tuna.
- Cod liver oil
- Egg yolk
- Almond milk. Unlike fortified milk, almond milk contains a natural supply of Vitamin D.
- Fortified food, like milk or orange juice with added Vitamin D
Food containing Vitamin D that I don’t eat or drink myself for various reasons, but are good sources:
- Soy milk. The film soy milk puts on the inside of our stomach and intestines prevents nutrients from being properly absorbed by the body. Yet for me the main reason not to drink it, is that most of the soy crop comes from the Amazon area. A lot of tropical forest is cut to make way for soy plantations.
- Liver. I don’t eat cow, sheep, goat, horse or game.
- Cheese. Dairy gets me eczema. So although I love cheese, it’s better for me not to eat it.
75% of the world population is lactose intolerant and 2 to 3% has a milk allergy. So I am not the only one having problems with dairy. 🙂
Can we Overdose ourselves on Vitamin D?
An intake of too much vitamin D for a long time can cause damage to the heart, kidneys and blood vessels. Symptoms include nausea, drowsiness, loss of appetite and constipation.
I am not mentioning any intake amounts here, because the way of measuring and representation is different in countries. The main action is to get checked by a GP whenever you are in doubt. Please don’t take any risks.
Am I still taking supplements of Vitamin D?
As long as my tests show that my values are on the low or average side I am taking my supplements. My main reason for wanting to have values that are on the high side is that I don’t eat or drink dairy. So I also have Calcium/Magnesium tablets. Vitamin D and Calcium are essential together to function at their best, Magnesium is necessary for an optimal effect of vitamin D.
And as long as the pandemic continues I am all the more motivated to continue my intake in order to help my immune system.
As brand I always choose Solgar for a number of reasons as you can read in my review.
Do you take any Vitamins? And if so, which ones? Let me know in the comment box.