Many of my family and friends who have spent time with me in the last two months know I’ve been suffering from bone and muscle pain but resisted going to a doctor. At times the pain has been so severe in my shoulders and arms it prevented my normal physical activities. At first I thought I had “over done it” with my fitness routine (even though the pain arrived on a morning after two days of rest).
Over the holidays I noticed my muscles growing even weaker. The overall sensation frightened me. After such a prolonged period of time and the new challenges on the horizon this year, I finally made a medical appointment. After mentioning some despairing possibilities, my doctor ordered a series of blood tests. He discovered a severe vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D helps the body control calcium and phosphate levels. If the blood levels of these minerals become too low, the body may produce hormones that cause calcium and phosphate to be released from the bones causing weak bones. Researchers estimate 50% of the world’s population may be at risk.
How could this happen to me?
I used to run 5 days a week outside in the sunshine but in the last year I decreased my running because of my deepening yoga practice. This meant I was out of the sun and in the studio on most days. Fifteen minutes a day in the sun is all you need to acquire enough vitamin D in your body.
A quick check of the soy milk, orange juice, and other products in my kitchen indicated I was only getting about half the vitamin D required. Although I worried about my family’s calcium intake because of my son’s dairy allergy, I hadn’t concentrated on vitamin D. Not all calcium products contain vitamin D. With the lack of daily sunlight and my meticulous use of suntan lotion, I had made myself very sick.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:
Bone pain in the arms, legs, pelvis, or spine
Muscle pain and loss of muscle strength
I’m sharing my story because taking a supplement is an easy fix and the complications from not treating the deficiency can be quite dire including high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and early mortality. In fact, many medical professionals are beginning to think that childhood obesity is being caused in part by a vitamin D deficiency.
Do yourself a favor and check your vitamin D intake. Are you getting enough? Make sure you are — especially in the winter when we aren’t outside as much and tend to stay warm under layers of clothing.
My doctor prescribed a supplement for the next 24 weeks. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better soon but I also intend on soaking up the sun as much as possible this winter.