Over the holidays, both Vishnu and I had our blood work done at his dad’s office.  Believe it or not, I was excited.  I am a firm believer in annual doctor’s visits, regular blood work, etc.  It’s great to eat well and exercise regularly, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle.  I know, I know…I’m a dork, but as you read on, you’ll see that the eight vials of blood were well worth it (and yes, you read that correctly…eight vials!).

Anyway, Vishnu’s results came in the very next day.  And overall, he’s a healthy guy.  We just have to work on getting his HDL cholesterol levels up.  Basically what it boils down to is that Vishnu needs to exercise more.  He’s working on it!

My results came in two days later, and I am proud to report that I am one healthy lady.  Vishnu’s dad told me to keep doing whatever it is that I’m doing.  This was honestly a relief because a few years ago my overall cholesterol was slightly elevated and a little out of whack.  It was nice to know that my (mostly) healthy habits are paying off.

So this is where the title of today’s post comes into play.  Our vitamin D levels were the only thing that actually alarmed Vishnu’s dad when he read the results.  Both of our levels are incredibly low.  The normal range is generally 20-50 ng/mL.  Mine was 13, and Vishnu’s was 17.  Eek!  No worries though, we immediately started taking a once a week (for 12 weeks) high dose supplement.  This is to be followed by a daily 2000 IU supplement.

Vishnu’s dad was telling us that a lot of his patients are deficient in Vitamin D.  He attributes this to limited exposure to sunlight, kidney issues, digestive issues, and weight problems.  He also mentioned that those with darker skin have to be especially careful.

After talking through all of this, I came to realize why our levels were so low.  For one thing, we have dark skin.  Also, although we live in Florida, our direct exposure to sunlight is very limited.  And finally, we don’t drink milk that has been fortified with vitamin D (almond milk contains no Vitamin D Edited to add – I was wrong…Silk almond milk is fortified with vitamin D.  Sorry for the confusion!), nor do we eat fish (a good source of vitamin D).  I’m just glad we figured this out before our low levels caused complications.

After doing a little more research, I learned that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with a number of different diseases, including (but not limited to) cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, asthma in children, and muscle weakness.  I also heard Dr. Oz on the radio the other morning talking about how individuals with low levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to the flu.  Scary stuff.

There are so many things that are not in our control when it comes to our own health.  However, this is not one of them.  All you have to do is be an informed patient and ask questions.  Easy peasy!

And just for good measure, I have to mention that I am not a health care professional.  The information in this post is based on my own personal experience.  Please consult your doctor if you are going to make major changes to your diet, exercise regimen, and lifestyle.

When was the last time you had your blood work done?

By Parita

13 thoughts on “PSA: Get your vitamin D level checked”
  1. I just read an article on this in Fitness RX! My Dr. had me start taking in a couple of years ago when she was concerned about my bone density (osteoperosis runs in my family). I also just read it’s just as important in fighting off illness as Vitamin C.

  2. I get blood work every year at my yearly physical with my doctor 🙂 Overall, I’m very healthy which makes me happy! My doc could tell I was a vegetarian because my cholesterol was really low and stuff. I kind of felt like a badass. However, my iron levels were lower (both my sister and mom are slightly anemic) and I had the Vitamin D talk with him too. Living in MI we don’t get as much sun and I’m a brownie. My doc recommended I take 4000 IUs of it! Now in the morning I take 3000 IUs of Vitamin D and my daily womens multi-vitamin has another 1000 in there. I’m glad you and Vishnu are healthy!! It’s always so nerve-wracking going to the doc and waiting for any kind of results!

  3. I had blood work done a couple of years ago for a health and nutrition class I was taking and was shocked when it came back saying my cholesterol was high. At the time, I was eating mostly vegan, training for a half marathon and eating oatmeal every single day. I don’t think I even want to know what it’s at now that I’m not doing any of those things…

  4. I do my yearly physical and everything seems to be normal except for slightly low HDL and iron levels. Even though I am not a vegetarian, I guess i dont get enough iron in my diet plus I am not a big red meat person! My vitamin levels were low too and I started taking supplements with calcium + vitamin D don’t know how much its helping me. I drink almond milk too- almond breeze, silk both has 25% Vit D. I think the main problem with low vit D with most of us is not getting enough sun as we all are inside working mostly 🙁

  5. I’m glad you posted this, P! Because sunlight is the leading source of vitamin D, it’s so easy to end up being deficient. Even for someone like me who lives in a sunny city, my levels are low- apparently the rays early in the morning are most effective. When I remember, I take calciferol supplements. Thanks for reminding me to get my levels checked again…I’m just about due for another check up.

  6. well written P. My husband is deficient in Vitamin D. It is important to get enough sunlight.. but it is a catch22 , wrinkles!!! I need to make an appt soon, you are so lucky his dad is a doctor, it’s like you can go in anytime for blood work.

  7. Awesome post 🙂 I actually JUST met a physician yesterday who does research on the effects of Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency on many other chronic illnesses like the ones you mentioned. Although we like to try and get our nutrients from natural sources (i.e. sunlight, foods), it is okay to take multivitamins regularly to make sure your levels are high enough!!

    Random fact: Vit D is high in eggs. Unfortunately, it’s in the yolk, specifically…
    Lastly, I just checked my carton of Silk almond milk and it has 25% of the recommended DV. Yay!!

  8. Oh man, good PSA. I’m sure my Vitamin D levels are totally out of whack because I never get any sunlight 🙁 Aaaaand my gym going is pathetic (and almost nonexistent) so maybe Vitamin D is not my biggest problem after all 🙂

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