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With Fall Here, Consider a Vitamin D Supplement

by Erica on September 27, 2014

Hi CGH Peeps!

With the Fall here now, and more of us spending less and less time outdoors, it’s time to consider vitamin d supplements…

If you’re like me, you’ve heard – for years – that you should put sunscreen on before going outside, and reapply if you sweat or swim, etc.  Dermatologists have been telling us this for decades now, and it certainly helps to keep our skin from being sun damaged, and helps to reduce the rates of skin cancers.

That being said, it also causes many of us to become deficient – sometimes severely – in vitamin d.  It’s a massive problem in our country, and many countries around the world that strongly encourage the use of sunscreen.  And this can cause a host of health problems, some quite serious- including autoimmune diseases.  (If you want more details- here’s a good journal article about it from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)

I always heard how I should drink milk to get my calcium and vitamin d.  Unfortunately, however, many of us really aren’t getting enough vitamin d, even if we do drink milk quite often.  And with all our sunscreen on, we’re not getting it through the sun either.

Hello SunshineOur bodies were designed to get its vitamin d from old fashion sunshine.

I am passionate in sharing this because I thought I was doing everything right.  I nearly always wore sunscreen on my body if I knew I was going outside during the warmer months.  And I have applied a moisturizer with a sunscreen in it on my face, everyday, for 15+ years now.

What I have learned – the hard way – is that I needed sun.  I desperately needed the sun’s rays.  I wound up with random rashes and inflammation on my skin, and was given steroid creams for years.  I also developed other more significant autoimmune issues.

Finally, I found a doctor who tested my vitamin levels, and what do you know…I was deficient in vitamin d.  Significantly.

Today, I continue to use my moisturizer/sunscreen combo on my face, but this fair skinned girl has become quite a thrill seeker.  In warmer months, I try to get outside daily, for a few minutes, without sunscreen on my arms and legs.  For the last several months, I’ve also taken a vitamin d supplement, to help bring my levels up faster.

Numerous rashes and skin inflammation that I’ve had for more than a decade, have healed.  And I wonder if this had a role in my more serious autoimmune issues.  It took years, but I finally found a doctor who figured it out, and helped my body get back on track.  I still don’t get why more doctors don’t take this more seriously, but that’s a different blog post.  :-)

In order to determine how long I should go outside without the sunscreen on my arms and legs, I first go to this website to determine my local UV Index.  Then, I look at this chart:

Vitamin D Chart

It’s important to keep checking your area’s current UV Index because it does change throughout the year.  I’ve been told by my fabulous internist to always take a vitamin d supplement through the cooler/cold months, especially for those of us in the Northeastern United States.

I also take a much higher dose than what the above journal article recommends, but that’s per my doctor’s recommendation.  I recommend that if you feel you may have a vitamin d deficiency, you speak to your doctor.  If they’re aren’t interested or supportive of your inquiry, I have found that doctors who self identify as internists with integrative, integrated, or functional specialties tend to be.

If you want to learn more about vitamin d, and the health issues associated with deficiency, please check this video out.  I learned TONS of really helpful info from it.  Here’s Dr. Holick’s website too, if you want to check it out.

My personal goal is to get enough sun for my body to have healthy levels of vitamin d, while also protecting my skin as much as possible from excessive amounts of sun.  I certainly don’t want skin cancer, or aged skin, but I also don’t want one (or two, three, four) of the many serious health problems that can be caused by a lack of vitamin d.  For me, it’s a balancing act.  And one that I think is very worth it.

Don’t forget- good health is contagious…pass it on!

Hugs,

Erica

 

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While very acutely ill several years ago, I avoided looking for information online.  I was told by my doctor that there was so much misinformation out there, that I’d drive myself crazy if I started researching online.

At some point however, I decided to be a thrill seeker, and I googled my illness.  I wound up coming across one of the most helpful things I’ve ever read, and I still refer to it today.

A man wrote a very brief comment about how he navigates having Crohn’s Disease while being a triathlete.  He talked about how he deals with multiple doses of prednisone, and how he avoids the weight gain associated with steroids.  In summary, as soon as he could begin training again, he did.  And, at the end, he wrote one of the most inspirational statements I’ve ever read…

“No matter what, know that you will get better.  At some point, you will get better.  Never lose hope because it will happen.”

That statement stuck with me, especially at my absolute worst.  When I was struggling tremendously to find a way to heal and get better.  When I started to think there was no hope.  When I didn’t know what new doctor to consult with.  When I didn’t know which meds to try first, or when they didn’t work as I had hoped.  When I was in the hospital with a flare up, H1N1, and pneumonia, all at the same time.  (Go big or go home!)

Over the years, I’ve reminded myself of that statement, and oh how I wish I could remember who that man was.  I’d love to write him a thank you.

What I have learned through my own health journey is that he was right.  He was absolutely right, and I also learned you never know when the tide will change.  You never know what information you might stumble upon, or who you might happen to meet that can help you.  Or when your body will begin to bounce back.  You just never know.

On a whim, I decided to see a new ENT one year while visiting family over the holidays.  That doctor led me to the doctor who found the cause of one autoimmune disease I was experiencing, and that doctor led me to another doctor who resolved multiple health mysteries I had been dealing with for more than a decade.

This was after I had seen approximately 20 specialists and doctors within a three year period, some at world renowned hospitals.

Something else I learned along the way is that dealing with chronic illness can be incredibly exhausting and depressing.  While I would remember what that man on the blog shared, there were times I questioned whether I would truly find the healing I was looking for.  I was just tired.  Exhausted from all the thinking and strategizing.Me on Spin Bike

I finally figured out that I needed to hit the pause button a handful of times.  I was doing everything I could possibly do to get better, and while I didn’t want to give up on myself, I had to take a breather.  I still took my medicines and took care of myself, but I temporarily halted researching and advocating for myself.  I hit pause, sometimes for a day or so, maybe a week, or maybe a month.  I’d hit pause, with the plan to give my brain a break from all the work it was doing, and I’d resume advocating for myself as soon as I had the energy to do so.

Hitting pause helped quiet my mind, and it was during these times that I’d suddenly get a new idea, or new inspiration.  Or I was able to calm down and and get more rest.  Either way it was a win.

So, lovely people, given half the U.S. population has a chronic illness, there’s a good chance you do too.  If it’s a significant illness, and you’re on your own health journey right now, remember these two things…

First, never give up on yourself.  Things can change on a dime, you just never know.  I am living proof of this.  See my sweaty spin pic above…  If you told me I’d be healing and training like I am currently, a few years ago, I may have thrown something at you.  I am officially in love with spin now.  And this body of mine LOVES it too.

Second, taking a breather is not the same as giving up.  Hitting the pause button with the intention of getting back to business as soon as you can, can sometimes be just what you need to find healing.

Hugs,
Erica

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Why Being a Good Girl is Very, Very Bad News…

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Please Join Me for a Free Relaxation Skills Tele-Class!

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My Turkey & Kale Soup Recipe

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The Language of Freedom

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Master Coach Linda Bucher was my guest again on Catch Good Health Radio today, and we spoke about the language of freedom.  Oh my goodness…  If you aren’t familiar with Linda, she is quite a power house, and an excellent teacher too.  I love having her on CGH Radio! Before you read any further, ask […]

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