I’m not a doctor. Nor do I play one on TV. So you can take the following information on board, for what it’s worth, from a person with no medical training beyond applying a bandage to a skinned knee. But, since it happened to me I thought I would pass on the information I have now learned.
It turns out, in modern day society – especially since we’re living in cities and not out in the fields tending to crops and livestock – we’re all mostly Vitamin D deficient, if we don’t eat a ton of fatty fish or take a supplement. The pandemic hit at the end of winter, when we’re usually indoors more. Even though we live in a generally sunny climate in Spain, we wear coats, pants and hats in the winter. Little skin sees the light of day. Absorbing Vitamin D is a challenge in winter months, even in Valencia. Sometimes, in winter, I see old people on benches with their pant legs rolled up facing the morning sun. I guess that wasn’t to keep their tans going.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been much speculation as to why certain people have a more severe form of Covid than others. Viral load, pre-existing conditions. Lots of reasons. One of the potential causes studied has been to investigate the correlation between low Vitamin D levels and people with more severe Covid. I’ve read some of these articles in the Spanish newspapers.
When lockdown hit, it included the subsequent months and months of trying not to go out to avoid people. So even less exposure of my skin to the sunlight. And I had no idea what that meant to my health.
Looking back, I starting having challenges, even in 2019. I struggled to climb stairs without being ridiculously out of breath. I went on a hike with a group in Valencia and had a hard time going up a hill. Something that had never been an issue before. I passed it off as just needing to do more stairs in my work out. But now I see that perhaps all this was a precursor to what was going to take me down last Spring.
It’s easy to pin everything that’s happened to me on Covid over the past year. But that’s not the full story. Finally, after so many hospital stays and Dr visits, and test after test, one of my doctors decided to test my Vitamin D levels in my blood. BINGO!! Normal is between 30-40. Deficiency is 20-30. Below 20 and it’s considered Insufficient. And mine? 8.
So take some vitamins and shut up about it, Kelli – you might well say. But it’s not that simple. It takes large pharmacological doses of Vitamin D, and weeks/months of supplements, to get it back to where it should be to, hopefully, fully recover. However, if this is the unlock to my future wellness I’m on cloud nine!
Before this, I had no idea of the importance of Vitamin D. I had always been told that taking Vitamin D supplements was dangerous since you could take too much. But, it turns out, not enough Vitamin D, and bad things start to happen to your body. It impacts your heart and vascular system. Creating rapid bone loss and severe muscle weakness. Your hair falls out. It contributes to the development of many kinds of cancer, and auto-immune diseases, breathing difficulties, allergies and asthma. And it’s absence messes with your metabolism and can cause depression. Long term Vitamin D ‘insufficiency’, as my Dr termed it, is very, very dangerous to your health. And women above 50 are at the centre of the bullseye. For something so very important, I have never been tested for, nor spoken to about this by an American doctor, in my entire life.
But the good news is, in my case they’ve figured it out and now I’m passing this information on to my friends who have been in lock down, too, or live in a climate where it’s not possible to get enough Vitamin D from the sun. At your next check up, you might just ask your Dr to test your Vitamin D levels to see where you’re at. It could be good news and you’ll go on your merry way. Or it could let you know that you need some supplemental help.
If I had known that I was so low I would have done something much sooner. Perhaps the last year or two might have felt a little different – health wise. But knowledge is power and I’ll never get another annual physical without asking for this test. So now you know what I know. Do with it what you will and consult a medical professional. Cheers!