In my quest to regain my health, I’ve stumbled on a lot of material that I had known once upon a time but forgot after my car accident in ’94. Each nugget of wisdom gleaned from research triggers another memory and takes me another step closer to my goal of Perfect Health. It also makes me extremely happy. Yes I *am* a nerd. I revel in knowledge. And I love the journey as much as I will love the destination.
Last year, my doctor wanted to put me on cholesterol medicine, but agreed to wait 6 months to see if my theory that I could bring it down on my own was valid. I knew that your body makes Vitamin D out of cholesterol, so I had a theory that if I spent time in the sun during the spring and summer, my body would use the stored up cholesterol to produce Vitamin D.
Much to my delight, my summer blood test did show a significant drop in cholesterol, and Dr Fly was properly impressed. I’m not sure if it was out of curiosity or if it was something else, but she included in my autumn blood workup a test for serum Vitamin D levels. Surprising to both of us, my D levels were very low. Apparently my body needs a lot more than I can manufacture, so she suggested I start taking D₃ supplements.
Of course rather than just follow blindly I did my research on the internet. I found foods that are high in Vitamin D as well as signs and symptoms of both low and high Vitamin D before picking up some supplements. The following are tidbits I’ve gleaned from various websites which are listed at the end of my post in case anyone wants to do their own research or has a question about something I’ve touched upon but not covered sufficiently.
VItamin D goes through a couple of changes in the body in order to be useful, one in the liver and then another in the kidneys. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you get the vitamin from food, sun exposure or pills… they all are inert until your body converts them to useable form. General consensus among the websites was that the pills are more bio-available than the oil-based gelcaps, which require extra processing.
D does a lot more than give you strong bones. It promotes calcium absorption in the intestine and plays a role in modulating cell growth in several ways and helps your muscles to work. I learned some time ago that the way a muscle fiber works is by either holding onto a calcium ion or spitting it out, which makes the muscle short and wide to accommodate the Calcium ion or long and thin without it. If you don’t have enough calcium in your system, your muscle fibers don’t have the tools they need to work, and if there isn’t enough Vitamin D you won’t be absorbing the calcium. I hope you all find this as fascinating as I do!
Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin D are fatty fish such as tuna*, mackerel, cod*, salmon*, sardines and swordfish, beef liver* and egg (yolks)* as well as vitamin D fortified milk* products. The foods with asterisks are among my favorites, so I guess my body was trying to tell me something.
The article goes on to say that while the general population should have approximately 600IU daily, the average intake for the various classes of Americans (divided by age, gender and reproduction status) ranges between one half to one third of that.
We also don’t get enough magnesium, found in many nuts and seeds. Magnesium and calcium have to be present in (I believe) close to equal quantities in order for us to use the calcium, so having less than optimal amounts of magnesium in our diets makes the calcium useless. Top that off with our propensity for caffeinated and carbonated beverages, both of which have ingredients which bind to magnesium, and I see a recipe for disaster.
So, if we’re taking in enough Calcium, but don’t have the necessary Vitamin D and magnesium for our bodies to use it, where does it go? I can’t help but wonder if that’s the reason so many people are getting kidney and gall stones in recent years. What if lowering your cholesterol artificially (drug therapy) sets in motion a chain of events that leads to needing to have your gall bladder out? This is all theory, and I have no proof, but it wouldn’t be the first time that I hit on something that was proven later by research.
Vitamin D info: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/