Vitamin D is a hot topic right now and I am one of the many people on its bandwagon. However, I am not just writing blindly about the topic. I do have some experience with it, and in more ways than one. During my span of time that I lacked health insurance coverage, I experienced a decline in my overall well being. I just attributed it to getting older and having injuries from my high school years catch up to me. After securing health coverage and then a competent doctor, he ordered some general blood work on me. A few days later I received a call from his office informing me that they were calling in a prescription of vitamin D for me. Apparently my vitamin D levels were down around zero. I didn’t know what the big deal was in needing to be prescribed vitamin D, especially at 50,000 IU a week. So I did what I always do and hit the internet to see what happens to the body when it’s missing this vitamin.
Most people know vitamin D as the “sunshine” vitamin and that it helps people avoid depression. Most people also know that it is good for healthy bones. I wasn’t suffering from depression, but I was experiencing a few other things that had no explanation. In the spring of 2008, I had a sudden onset of anxiety and panic attacks. I saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, put on 100mg of Zoloft and sent along my way. My thyroid levels were all normal so why was I suddenly suffering from something that I didn’t have a genetic predisposition for? I also struggled with constant weight gain that I couldn’t explain. My eating habits were not terrible and I exercised three times a week. How was it possible to be gaining weight without reason? Finally, my joints and muscles started to ache constantly. I felt like I had broken some bones in my foot, and my knees were constantly aching. It was all I could do to get up and going in the morning, and since I do not believe in fibromyalgia as an actual condition or syndrome that everyone is being diagnosed with, I just attributed it to age.
According to WebMD, more than 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia. This is a growing condition that that causes people to ache all over without any explanation. It is because of the growing diagnoses of fibromyalgia that doctors have decided to routinely test people’s levels of vitamin D. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
– Anxiety or depression
– Inability to concentrate
– Dryness in mouth, nose, eyes
– Difficulty sleeping
– Incapacitating fatigue
– Hypersensitivity to cold and/or heat
– Painful menstrual cramps
– Decreased pain threshold or tender points
– Widespread pain
I was suffering from all of these symptoms, but I associated the first four symptoms with the anxiety since those are symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. I associated the hot flashes and painful menstrual cramps to being perimenopausal, which can also cause the onset of anxiety. Finally, I just assumed the remaining symptoms of pain were attributed to old injuries and my increasing age. I was an athlete in high school and had suffered some injuries and general wear and tear. I had a pill for everything. Zoloft controlled the anxiety. Ativan helped me sleep. Naproxen controlled the menstrual cramps, and ibuprofen controlled the pain. It was my own cocktail.
The one thing I couldn’t explain, though, was the constant weight gain. How could I be doing yoga and cardio three times a week and not be losing any weight? Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and when you have extra body fat, that fat keeps the vitamin and prevents it from entering your bloodstream so the rest of your body can use it. This interferes with a hormone known as leptin which tells your brain that you are full. If you’re brain doesn’t know you’re full then you just keep eating, and we all know that the key to successful weightloss is the simple formula of calories in vs. calories out.
Within a month of taking my prescribed vitamin D pills, I noticed some changes in me. First, my menstrual cycle that was out-of-whack for the past year was back on schedule and not causing me the difficulties it had been. Next, my chronic aches and pains had disappeared completely. Suddenly I had an enormous amount of energy again and I felt like moving; even running! What felt like broken bones in my foot were no longer bothering me; the muscle aches were gone; and the joint pain was gone completely. The only pain that remained was from a separated collar bone and some ACL scar tissue. The last change I noticed was a sudden 5 pound weight loss. I had been struggling to lose weight, and a month after being on vitamin D, I finally manage to lose some. Interestingly enough, I also noticed that I wasn’t hungry all the time. My brain finally knows when my stomach is full.
While I realize that there are people out there who will disagree with my lack of belief in fibromyalgia, I can’t help but see the correlation between vitamin D levels and fibromylagia symptoms. I can only speak from my own experience that vitamin D cured many issues that were wrong. Vitamin D decifiency is a growing concern, and is as rampant as fibromyalgia. I can’t help but wonder if they are the same. Do yourself a favor and have your vitamin D levels checked if you are experiencing unexplained changes in your body. Researchers are suggesting that adults take up to 2000 IU a day in order to maintain healthy levels.
Brigham and Womens