Chronically sick and housebound? You may be Vitamin D deficient, then…
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The following is also published on my Ron's Rants blog. As it's very relevant to people with ME/CFS, I've posted it here, too.
Over the past year, due to worsening COPD and increasing pain from a variety of sources, I have become more or less housebound. I bought an up-market powerchair, in the hope that I would be able to get out and about more, but it proved to be a complete crock – see I've bought a lemon and I want my money back...
During the year, my overall health and energy levels have both deteriorated, and it wasn’t until last week that it finally dawned on me that my exposure to sunlight was effectively nil, and that as a result I was probably vitamin D deficient. That I was quite seriously deficient seems evident from my response to supplementation with vitamin D3.
There are three major sources of vitamin D – cod liver oil, which I don’t take, kippers, which I love but make me feel terribly sick (nope – dunno why), so I avoid them, and sunlight, of which I’d had almost none since summer 2008 (I’ve been out in the sun just once, back in April).
So I bought myself some vitamin D3 tablets. D3 is the form of D created in the skin by sunlight. Be aware that D2 is potentially far more toxic than D3, and best avoided. I bought mine from the World Wide Shopping MallWorld Wide Shopping Mall (in North Yorkshire, where they also have a real-world existence in Malton), which is where I buy all my supplements**. Be aware that there are some compatibility issues with Firefox – Opera or IE are better.
I got 600i.u. tablets, and take one a day. I took the first
dose last Saturday morning and, within hours, felt much better. Actually, “better”
is the wrong word – I’m very ill and continue to feel very ill –
what changed very much for the better were my energy levels and mental acuity
(and if you have ME/CFS, you’ll know how important those things are),
which make my various illnesses much more tolerable.
Over the last few days I’ve been more active, and accomplished far more, than at any point in, maybe, the last decade. Even today, with a hangover, I don’t feel as wiped-out as I would normally. D3, like almost every drug or supplement, can be toxic, but it would take abuse of the supplements to cause you any harm (many sources say you can take 5,000 – 6,000i.u. of D3 a day, to your benefit. I’m taking 600i.u., which I may increase to 1,200i.u. if I feel there’s a need. Right now, there isn’t.
So, if you’re in my position, healthwise, I would seriously recommend supplementing with Vitamin D3. It won’t stop you being, or feeling, ill, but it will, if my experience is typical, you’ll have a lot more energy, and simply feel better generally. For example, since I moved into this flat in May, I have felt totally wiped out, but on Sunday I felt, for the first time, able to tackle all the hundreds of books that were cluttering up my bedroom, box them and stash them out of the way, while simultaneously baking several loaves. I can’t remember when I last had so much energy – it’s years, at least. I have less pain, too – D deficiency causes bone pain in adults.
I've got my appetite back, too. For some time now eating has been little more than a refuelling exercise, with precious little food anyway, as I tried, futilely, to lose weight. Now I'm actually enjoying my food, and looking forward to it. I may gain weight but, as I'm likely to be more active, maybe not. Either way I don't care - I'm sick of starving myself to no avail. (And, quite possibly, making myself sick by it.)
The first dose of D3 irritated my stomach (which is hypersensitive anyway), but a glass of milk fixed that. Subsequent doses haven’t caused any problems, so the first was probably just coincidence.
I take a variety of supplements already, some to help with
my ME/CFS, others to boost my immune system or to give me an energy boost, and
one to counter the effects of my meds (see this
post for details), and D3 is, by some margin, the most effective. That doesn’t
mean I’ll be cutting back on the others, as they all address different
problems, but D3 is an excellent addition to my DIY pharmacopeia.
Vitamin D and Muslim women.
Lack of sunlight and, in consequence, D3, is well-documented phenomenon among the Muslim community in the UK, many of whose women, shrouded from head to toe in burkhas and hijabs, are at serious risk of deficiency, to the extent of provoking warnings from the National Health Service in 2007, which launched a campaign aimed at Muslim women, particularly Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Somalis (who have an inbuilt tendency to deficiency anyway), to encourage them to increase their vitamin D intake.
** The World Wide Shopping Mall’sWorld Wide Shopping Mall's (note: this link is to their home page, the link above takes you to the Vitamin D3 page), vitamins and other supplements are well priced, if you avoid the insanely expensive brands, like Solgar. For example, all my mine are from their Power Health range, which combines good quality products with sensible prices. They are not the cheapest online but – and I’ve tried cheap vitamins – they are fairly priced for what you get. And what you get is good-quality vitamins and other supplements, at very good prices, with zero frills. Which is all you need – expensive, fancy packaging won’t make the contents any more effective.
They’re good people, too, if anything should go wrong with your order and, in over 5 years, that’s happened only once.