D is for Deficiency

by Khushboo on July 23, 2012

A few weeks I mentioned that I was retaining water like a sponge and overall feeling really uncomfortable.  After undergoing a whole host of tests and seeing a doctor about it, it turns out I am deficient in Vitamin D, which may be one of the contributing factors.  We’re always told to take our vitamins but only after discussing it thoroughly with my doctor only did I realize the importance of Vitamin D, especially for women.

It actually functions as a steroid hormone in the body, where it can influence the activity of various genes turning them on or off.   Over time conditions like period irregularity and infertility seem to have unfortunately become more common.  While who’s to say what the actual cause is, it was a real eye-opener to see Vitamin D deficiency on the top of that list.  In addition to these female-based problems, Vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to depression, fatigue, muscle weakness  diabetes, unexpected weight gain, cancer, osteoporosis…and the list goes on.  While I’m no doctor, I am sure I am not the only one who can use benefit from an increase in Vitamin D:

1) Sunlight: This is clearly a case of “You’re damned if you do & you’re damned if you don’t”.  If we sit in sunlight we risk skin cancer whereas if we don’t, we risk being deficient vitamin D.  In the case of the latter, small doses of controlled exposure to ultraviolet B rays (preferably in the early morning) promotes the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body.

2) Food: Although vitamin D does not occur naturally in many foods, it’s found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel (hello, Sushi), almonds, spinach, beef liver, cheese, and most importantly: egg yolks.  While yolks don’t scream “health” the same way egg whites do, that’s where the nutrients lie.  Yes, a yolk will set you back 60-80 calories, but I think it’s a fair price to pay for the addition of vitamins B2, B12, D, and iron to your meal.  When I’m cooking eggs, I usually combine 2 whites with a whole egg.

Soy & Maple Salmon with Charred Bok Choi & Chinese Cabbage – Salt Water Cafe, Bandra

And if you had any doubts about adding more healthy fats to your diet, consider this just another reason: as a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin D can only be absorbed in the body with the help of fats.  Pass the peanut butter, please :) !

3) Supplements:  Although sunlight is the richest source of Vitamin D, supplementation might be the fastest way to raise levels.  Especially as I have no plans (or any opportunity given the current weather conditions) to bask in the sun,  I’ve been prescribed to dissolve a sachet of Calciferol in a glass of water and drink it weekly.  Of course before starting any supplementations, consult with your own doctor first.

Although Vitamin D deficiency has becoming increasingly common, it’s not always the case.  However as it’s been linked to a growing inventory of ailments, even day-to-day ailments, it’s always worth paying attention to.  Like most cases, it’s the little things which make all the difference.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

forgottenbeast July 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I had a doc appt last week, and she was just talking to me about this exact topic! How women are actually taking TOO MANY calcium supplements and really should be taking more vitamin D instead. Needless to say, I went out and bought a bottle of Vitamin D pills this weekend. I get my fair share of sun, and I like to get my nutrients through food instead whenever possible, but I know my diet is lacking in D, so vitamins it is!

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Agreed- conditions like osteoporosis can still occur if you’re eating enough calcium (yet not enough vitamin D)!

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caloricandcrazy July 23, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I love the pills cartoon! Haha. It actually reminds me of those Flinstone vitamins!

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Haha love those! I abuse vitamin C pills- they’re like orange sweets haha!

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Alex @ therunwithin July 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I didn’t know a low amount of vitamin d could cause that! I take a supplement each day for it.

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I was shocked too…especially about its link to infertility!

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Parita July 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I’m glad you figured out what was going on! Vishnu’s dad is an internal medicine doctor and he says that Indians are among the ethnicities that are most likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. Great post, K! :)

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thank you :) ! Apparently we’re also most at risk to be sufferers of polycystic ovaries..the joys of being Indian, eh ;) !

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Cakewhiz July 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Glad to know you are feelng well now. While i was pregnant, i had gotten deficient in iron and it made me feel tired all the time. That’s when i relaized the importance of proper diet and multivitmain pills and supplements.

Great post on raising awareness :)

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thanks so much and I’m glad you are taking care of your vitamin needs now- better late than never :) ! Especially as I don’t eat red meat, I was surprised to see that my iron levels were optimal.

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Alexandra July 24, 2012 at 12:16 am

hahaha those pills talking about candy made my day– when I was little I ate those flinstone vitamins like candy…shhh ;)

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hahah you aren’t the only one, my friend!

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Brittany July 24, 2012 at 1:20 am

I take a vit D pill occasionally, along with a Bvit and a B12 to balance my vegan diet. I am so jazzed you figured out what the issue was with the water retention!

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Britt, it’s a relief to be able to now be proactive about it rather than waiting in the lurch!

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Corrie Anne July 24, 2012 at 4:52 am

I love Vitamin D from the sun!! Lol. But I’m freckly so I really have to be careful!

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Gah I hate these “lesser of 2 evils” situations!

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sarah July 24, 2012 at 11:20 am

I really have to thank you for providing this info( seriously girl, you come up with thee best blogging topics)!
I had blood work done ,and received the results in the mail just yesterday- I am ‘profoundly’ low in vit D:(. You have definitely bought some stuff to my attention, I actually have severe osteoporosis unfortunately ,and my leg broke at the beginning of this year( I’m 19yrs old, so NOT GOOD).

Hopefully both of us will be able to beat this deficiency for good!
Xxx

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Khushboo Thadani July 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Thanks for such a nice comment, Sarah- I’m so glad you enjoy the topics I blog about! I’m sorry to hear about your leg- I always think that osteoporosis can only happen at later years but we really need to start taking care as early as possible. I hope your leg is on the mend and that you restore your vitamin D levels asap :) !

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Natural Joint Pain Relief July 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Lovely post. It is well informative. Taking proper diet is best rather than taking the supplements. Calcium rich diet & exercise will make bones healthy & strong. Thanks for this sharing.

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

Absolutely- I’m all about real food but if that’s not enough, then supplements it is!

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Min July 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I’m always thinking about my calcium intake as I am Asian and have a family history of osteoporosis. As you know vitamin D helps with its’ absorption, so it’s very important to me as well. Although I’m in the sunlight a lot (one of the benefits of walking around the campus in this scorching heat), I do wear tons of sunblock!

I actually did a research paper on vitamin D recently. Vitamin D seems to be the “it” supplement these days, as it’s been linked with many many health issues like you’ve mentioned. However, as I looked into the actual research papers through pubmed, the findings are inconclusive. This is how the over supplementation happens, I think. I hope that everybody won’t go crazy with vitamin D supplementation, but focus instead on getting the adequate amount. This is a great post, Khushboo!

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

That’s really interesting about your findings- thanks for sharing!. I agree about the dangers of over-supplementation, although with vitamin d, I think there’s only risk after taking 100% more than your RDA.

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sprint2thetable July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm

My gyno and my trainer both have the taking Vitamin D for the bone density benefits. I never realized how important it was before – you always hear calcium!

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

Exactly, people forget/don’t realise that all that calcium is only beneficial if vitamin d is present too!

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Honey,What's Cooking (@honeywhatscook) July 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

Pass the peanut butter? I’m thinking CUPCAKE. :-)
Great article. I learned about Vitamin D earlier too.. I believe I get it from a decent amount of sunlight these days since I walk for 10-12 minutes going to/from the subway station. I love salmon and egg yolks, I don’t mind a setback in calories.

OMG.. and please let me know when exactly you’re gonna be in london. I’m thinking about going to London and Amsterdam for a week and it would be great to meet you for coffee. I will be in Central London. I don’t know for sure my dates, but it will be mid-end of August (not sept) anymore. I’m trying to get a good deal, but it’s impossible in Aug.

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

Meeting up would be great :) ! I’m there till the 3rd week of August. I’m sure the fares will reduce around mid-end Aug as the Olympics will be over by then.

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Sable Weisman (@SquatLikeALady) July 25, 2012 at 7:21 am

Ahhh we talked about this QUITE a bit in Anatomy & Physiology II – it’s a huge issue! I am currently taking a VitD supplement every day as part of contest prep & I have to say, I notice a difference in energy levels & also muscle contraction!

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

I never took into account the effects of vitamin d on my weight training- hopefully I will start to see some positive changes with supplementation!

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Purvi Verma Saini (@PurviVermaSaini) July 25, 2012 at 11:00 am

well all that info is new for me and I am quite surprised to learn the effects of Vitmain D deficiency…. infact, after looking at the symptoms mentioned, I am thinking to get myself tested :(

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

Hope it all goes well. As Parita mentioned above, Indian ethnicities are at the highest risk for a vitamin d deficiency.

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Tara July 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Very interesting! I definitely want to go buy a supplement now. Like I mentioned to you earlier, I spend about two hours a day outside (although it’s not always beautiful and sunny like it is now!) so I wouldn’t have thought I needed it. Who knows!

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

It’s so difficult to know whether you actually need more vitamin D or not…in some cases, you can be exposed to enough sunlight but your body is unable to absorb it which therefore still puts you at risk of a deficiency!

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Living, Learning, Eating July 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I’m glad you’ve figured it out – you’ll feel so much better now! I had a vitamin D deficiency (having pigment + living in New Hampshire = uh-oh in the winter) so I take a supplement pretty regularly these days!

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Khushboo Thadani July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

From these comments, it seems that vitamin D supplementation is quite common..which is somewhat of a relief :) !

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д§mд July 29, 2012 at 4:34 am

much needed post seriously!

Been there Done That … my VitD level was critically low the previous year when I got tested. So after much thought the GP prescribed me with really high dosage of VitD for 7 days to boost the levels.

Normally in supermarkets the Vit D available is of 10 micrograms or 400 units which is very very low for asian or african people. We should be taking around 1000 units per day to maintain the levels considering the way sun shines in UK as well :)

I think this message should be widely spread:)

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Khushboo Thadani July 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Just out of curiosity – did the high dosage for 7 days do the trick in getting your levels back up?

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д§mд July 30, 2012 at 3:07 am

it does.

For info sake, normally doctors suggest 400 units / 10 microgm to take. For asians and africans it is 1000 units +. My GP gave me 40000Units per day for 7 days, Now its been 6 months so Im due to have another test to check out. I started having really bad pains in my bones for which I was tested.

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Khushboo Thadani July 30, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for sharing and hope the dosage helps with your bone pains!

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