A personal experience of Vitamin D deficiency
The crunch came one evening in late January 2010 when I had to cling on to a kitchen worktop, my legs buckling under me as I gazed helplessly into a sink-full of washing up.
It was 8.00pm and I’d been going to bed between 8.30-9.00pm for weeks. Constantly exhausted, I slept until 7.30am, woke up tired, went to work and was almost unable to make it through the day. It was a cycle of tiredness that I put down to the usual: pressure of work, a particularly long, hard winter – and perhaps simply just getting older.
I’d also noticed that I had become more easily confused and muddled, I wasn’t remembering things, my attention wandered – but I put that down to being tired all the time. Mental confusion wasn’t helping.
The fatigue had been building up over several months and I suppose I’d become oblivious to it – I thought it was “just one of those things”. But the incident on that January evening shocked me into making an appointment with my GP – my ever over-active imagination going into fifth gear in the intervening days.
My fantastic GP, with whom I’ve been for 20 years, immediately booked a blood test to determine my Vitamin D levels. A few days later the result showed I was drastically Vitamin D deficient.
I was surprised when she said she’d encountered a wide-spread Vitamin D deficiency among her patients in the last couple of years and, in her long career as a GP, she’d only the previous year had a patient who gave birth to a baby with rickets.
What was more astonishing was that the deficiency wasn’t confined to any one ethnic group and she was finding it in those who wore Western-style dress, as well as those who covered-up.
She said the causes were unknown. Maybe it was an over-use of sun block? Certainly I’d unthinkingly been following beauty editors’ advice for years and applied SPF Factor 15 moisturiser even in the winter months, when (what with hat, coat, gloves, trousers/tights) the only part of me that was exposed was the few square centimetres from eyebrows to chin. And, of course, I lavished on the sun block during the summer.
I was prescribed Calcichew-D3 Forte tablets and the improvement in my energy levels was extremely rapid. I’ve now been taking the tablets for 18 months, with a short break last summer and probably another short break this.
With further reading, I discovered that in our northern climate there is virtually no chance of getting skin cancer from the sun’s rays between October and March – so out went all those Factor 15 moisturisers and I spend as much time as possible outdoors gardening and going on long country walks.
It’s an area that’s getting more attention and research, so it’s worth keeping up with current findings.
BBC Radio 4 Case Notes
BBC Radio 4 Food Programme
Is vitamin D deficiency casting a cloud over your health?