Friday, August 9, 2013

Rx; Sunshine

My doctor is retiring. Not really a huge deal to me personally since I hadn't gone to see her since before college, but I was thinking it would probably be a good idea to get a physical - just make sure I am A-OK, ya know? So, I set up an appointment with a NEW doctor - old doc wouldn't see me since I hadn't been in since before 2010.  And, I guess, as is procedure for new patients nowadays, they did a full blood panel.

This week I went in so we could go over everything. I guess that's a thing too now? Every page of the test results, she pretty much spent applauding me for staying so healthy. She even told me that she rarely sees such great cholesterol levels. She drew a little star and happy face on my chart - and like the 5 year old I am, I beamed.

Of course, I spent the whole time waiting for the "But..."

and, of course, there was one.

My vitamin D levels are - in her words - "kinda wimpy". Optimal levels of Vitamin D are between 50 and 70. Mine are at 26.

Seriously? I'm fair skinned and live in Southern California. How is it even possible for me to have low levels of vitamin D? My skin is practically translucent, shouldn't I be soaking that stuff up just by spending 5 minutes outside? No? 15 minutes?

Especially since new studies are linking high levels of vitamin D to low risk of cancer, I have to do something about it, don't I? Not to mention, vitamin D makes you happy... and happy, well that's always good.

There are pretty much three options for upping my vitamin D

1. Eat foods high in Vitamin D. The trouble with this one is not many of those foods exist. Yes, I can eat oily fish, mushrooms, and eggs (including the yolks), but the sad reality is that I won't get much more than I'm already getting. Eggs are the primary source of protein in my diet. Since I already eat a good amount of eggs, I don't feel like changing my diet will increase my vitamin D.

2. Take a supplement. Cod liver oil (which totally sounds gross, but is really just a gel cap) is SUPER high in vitamin D, but any supplement will do. This was actually the route my doc suggested. She even said I'd be fine if I didn't take it every day - which kind of diminishes the seriousness here. It would still help bring up my levels.

3. Get out in the sun. This is by far the most effective way to get your vitamin D. Your body soaks up the sun and turns it into vitamin D. Amazing and easy, right? I remember reading somewhere that you can get sufficient levels of vitamin D just by spending 15 minutes in the sun each day. So, why is this so hard for me? 1) I wear sunscreen every day. I'm pale and I only wear it on my face unless I know I'm going to be spending a lot of time outside. 2) I work in an office. I have a window, but I'm not in direct sunlight. and 3) Most of my exercise usually takes place indoors - yoga, fitness classes, weightlifting, etc.
Running was something I got back into after we did my blood tests, so it is possible that my levels have improved since then. I'm also trying to just get outside more. Keep the sunscreen on, obvi, but be out more in general.

What do you think? Do you get enough vitamin D?

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