A good vitaminiDea

Greetings and Happy Monday-

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I scheduled my “complete” annual physical on January 3rd- just 2 days after a full month and half with absolutely no self-control whatsoever of what I was shoveling in my mouth. You know the kind of “complete” appointment where the receptionist sitting behind the protective barrier greets you with 6 pages of paperwork that needs to be completed annually before the nurse calls you to the nurses station to take your vital signs.

side note: I often wonder if the blood pressure results are negatively affected as a result of being asked to complete paperwork- I do know for a fact and from experience that a patients blood boils when they are asked to complete the same paperwork over and over again. I don’t know how many times I needed to yield a patient into my old office because they were giving the receptionist a hard time and raising their voice about these sheets of paper.

It wasn’t the mechanical scale that I was scared of tipping for this appointment because I knew that extra minutes of running did indeed offset the extra calorie consumption and my weight was maintained. I was worried that my cholesterol numbers would be skewed to the high range of normal because my body is not used to all of that fat and sugar.

I started to call the doctor’s office two days after the 3 vials of blood were drawn from my right arm vein looking for my lab report card. Yes, I consider myself one of those annoying people that want to know right away if everything is fine or if anything is wrong and request copies of all my results and reports to be mailed to me for my personal health file.

What you don’t know is that in addition to all of the routine blood work that is normally ordered for a physical exam, I asked my doctor to order a special chemistry analysis to test my nutrition levels. I also wanted to be tested for celiac disease since one of my family members is in the process of being tested for the same. The doctor agreed to request these special tests and told me that a person can test positive for celiac disease even without any gastrointestinal symptoms.

My appointment was on Tuesday and now it’s Friday morning with still no lab results and my need to know before the weekend started prompted me to call the office again. I had to leave a message on the nurse’s voicemail stating the nature of my request. All of a sudden it’s 4:00pm and still no call back from the doctor’s office. I was getting annoyed from the lack of prompt response but there was nothing I was going to do at this point except wait.

Luckily, the doctor called me personally around 5pm on Friday to review my lab results. Relieved when she told me that everything was exceptionally good and that I did not test positive for Celiac disease…EXCEPT …. Ugh, I hate that word. I wondered what could be wrong – We went over all my cholesterol numbers and they were the same if not better than they have been for the last 20 years of screenings and I still don’t need a statin Rx (i.e. Lipitor) to produce those numbers. And yes I’m proud of not needing any meds for lowering cholesterol after spending many years of arguing with this nurse I worked with based on the fact that just because you turn 40 does not mean that you will need meds that potentially can harm your liver just to control cholesterol levels.

The doctor proceeded to review all the data that I had passed with flying colors and I kept thinking -come on already- get to the EXCEPT. Come to find out my Vitamin D levels are in the tank. Really bad- with a reading of 14 that puts me in the insufficient category – On a positive note if there is one more category that is worse, being deficient with a reading of less than 10. Normal readings according to my doctor are between 30-100.

I had no iDea or symptoms that I was Vitamin D deficient. I knew for a fact that it was not caused from diet – it had to be the result of that lack of sun in the area that I live. My understanding now is that there really is no evident symptoms until you are really deficient or your bones start to become brittle and/or break.

I also learned that this test is not routinely performed unless there is a reason for it. Hello, I live in Syracuse, NY and according to http://www.worldfactsandfigures.com/weatherfacts/numbersunny_city_desc.php, Syracuse has an average of 63 sunny days a year. If living in the black hole isn’t enough to warrant medical necessity, I don’t know what is. That statistic does not include partly sunny or partly cloudy days but nevertheless I can guarantee that I still wasn’t reaping any Vitamin D synthesis benefits due to the amount of UVA/UVB protection I slathered all over my face and body to protect my skin from premature aging and better yet skin cancer.

The action plan for me to up my levels of vitamin D is to take 50,000 IU of Vitamin D2 once a week for 16 weeks and then check back with my doctor for another blood test to see if my levels improved. I will also be sharing with you what my other plans are to up the D in my diet and how I can increase my exposure to UVB without going to a tanning bed. I’m scared of those florescent lamps that line the coffin like bed.

If you live in an area that does not get a lot of sun or if you are always protected by sunscreen while you are outside, it might be a good vitaminiDea to think about asking your doctor for this screening the next time you are at your doctor’s office. I am really surprised that the Vitamin D check is not a given for those of us living in the Northeast or any area without a lot of sunny D.

Any ideas on how I can get more sun exposure into my daily routine ?