"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Need Of Some Sunshine

A while ago I posted about my unhappiness due to experiencing all sorts of new and weird symptoms. I consulted my doctor about them and after a few tubes of blood tests, I had my results. I'm Vitamin D deficient. No surprises here, I've known that fact for years but what has surprised me is the fact that I've been taking 1000 IU of vitamin D daily ever since I was first told that I was extremely lacking in the sunshine vitamin. So why am I still low? After countless hours of research I have learnt that:

1. Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic pain conditions.
2. Those with chronic conditions may not absorb nutrients properly and are therefore prone to vitamin deficiencies.
3. Even with supplementation, those with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis still remain deficient because nutrients are not properly absorbed due to a weak immune system.
4. Several studies suggest links between vitamin D deficiency, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis; and argue the deficiency as a possible root cause/contributor for these conditions.
5. A sign of vitamin D deficiency is muscle pain, joint pain and fatigue.

Fascinating. After starting on the vitamin D supplement a few years ago I did notice a slight improvement in my muscle pain and in hearing that I am still low all these years later I'm hoping to see more of an improvement with the increase in dosage. I'm now taking 2000 IU daily. And I am pleased to say that my weird symptoms have vanished! It's amazing to think that being low in a vitamin can cause so much problems and yet doctors over look it. So vitamin D is the culprit- it caused my dizziness, excessive thirst and pins and needles. And I thought I was going crazy! Four months into my increased dosage and I no longer have horrible pins and needles in my feet, it's wonderful! I still get them in my hands from time to time but I read somewhere that it's a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. Thank God for the internet. Seriously. Doctors are great but they fail in the informing their patients thoroughly department. The remaining fatigue and muscle pain is just apart of living with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Oh how lovely it would be to just to pop a vitamin and *boom* symptoms disappear!

Around the same time I noticed the unwanted symptoms, I also noted that my lovely soft acne free skin turned into a red blob (I've been constantly researching this because I suspect that is linked to something and I think I've almost nailed the contributors, but more on that later), so being the curious woman that I am, I began researching. So, I typed in vitamin D and acne in google as you do, and- oh my goodness, it's a cause! After two failed antibiotic treatment attempts I finally have a piece of the puzzle solved. And yep, you guessed it, with the increased supplementation I have seen a slight gradual improvement. About time. It just goes to show that it pays to request a blood test. I'm going to make an effort to have my levels tested regularly from now on.

My aim this summer is to get some much needed sunshine (which seems rather impossible in Melbourne where it's sunny one minute and raining the next!) to help boost my levels as well. I'm making it my aim to get at least 10 minutes of glorious sunshine a day. Doctors may tell you 20 minutes of sunlight exposure is needed but the downside to taking methotrexate and plaquenil though is that you can't stay in the sun for more than 10 minutes a day because the medication makes you sensitive to sunlight (without the bonus of a tan, it's no wonder I'm deficient in the first place!) and more prone to skin cancer, but really what aren't we prone to these days?

Anyway, the whole point of this post? If you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia, it is well worth getting your vitamin D levels checked to save you unnecessary aches and pains.


To leave feedback click the comments link below. Your comments are appreciated.


Alanna said...

Hmm interesting. I have RA and I don't think I have ever tested my vitamin D levels. I know I don't get enough sunshine and I've never been told to take supplements.

I've just put it on my list of things to ask my rheumy next time I see him (any chance it could explain my rash too?).

Emily Ruth said...

It's well worth getting tested. I don't know about the rash, it's not a side effect of your medication? I know ever since I started on plaquenil and methotrexate my eczema is worse and I also get funny rashes. MooGoo products are great for rashes, they have really great body washes and moisturies which are really soothing. You may want to give that a try. www.moogoo.com.au. Rashes are really frustrating! I've found great relief from these products though. Good luck with it all :)

Kathy @ FibroDAZE said...

My doctor refuses to check my Vitamin D levels - yet another reason I am looking for a new GP. His rationale? "Everyone is deficient in Vitamin D."

Emily Ruth said...

Oh Kathy, he doesn't sound like a very good GP! Yes who isn't low in vitamin D, BUT us people with fibro and such are prone to being more deficient than the healthy person and need supplementation, and besides there is evidence that there is a link between auto-immune diseases and vitamin D deficiency so it's worth getting it checked, it may account for some symptoms or be contributing to the pain. It was in my case. I hope you find a doctor who is more understanding. All the best :)


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