Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Vitamin D Affects Your Immune System

Two months ago, I was told after a visit to my primary care doctor that I was low on vitamin D and needed to take at least 2,000 i.u. of vitamin D.

So I did. Every day.

Yet, I was experiencing bad body aches, extreme fatigue (to the point that I was taking 2-3 hour naps 1-2 times per day), struggling with depression (even on an antidepressant) and drinking coffee like it was my saving grace. The excess caffeine was not only making my skin paper dry; it was giving me extra anxiety and even strange chest pains from time to time which made me go for an EKG and other heart tests which turned up negative.

How much caffeine does it take for you to function each day?


So again to the doctor I went, this time, to run a plethora of tests to try to figure out why I was so sleepy all the time and why these flu-like body aches continued even when I was so careful about not eating gluten.

This time, my doctor ran a slew of tests and cautioned that we might not get an answer for awhile, especially if it was something like Fibromyalgia. But two weeks later I get a call with my results. All bloodwork was normal and I was still vitamin D deficient. How?

The nurse at my doctor's office now advised me to take 5,000 i.u. of Vitamin D per day.


Then something occurred to me. Can vitamin D deficiency cause the body aches that had been plaguing me for months? Could vitamin D deficiency cause depression? And why was I not absorbing the vitamin D I had been taking?

I began scouring Google for information and found out the following:

Most of us know vitamin D is mostly attributed to the sun. What many of us don't know is that the sun's rays don't magically infuse vitamin D into our systems (as I had previously thought). When skin is exposed to UVB radiation, it produces vitamin D.

Vitamin D is not a vitamin but a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone. Steroidal hormone? No wonder for many people, eczema diminishes when exposed to the sun!


So back to Whole Foods I went, to try to find a vitamin D supplement that was gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free and free of anything else I am allergic to.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find one free of soy AND lanolin. I am allergic to lanolin when its in creams or lotions..and the D vitamins from fish oil had soy....grrrrr
I settled on the one by County Life and began taking 5,000 i.u. per day. I also tried Blue Bonnet brand which also hails itself as being soy-free. After a trial or two, I noticed that the dose made me very sleepy (likely from lanolin allergy) so I began taking the dose just before bedtime. I also added magnesium supplements to help aid in the absorption of the D. Eating green leafy vegetables is also highly beneficial due to its vitamin K content. Vitamin K not only helps the D absorb, but if you have too high a ratio of D and calcium in your system, vitamin D can cause toxicity, which I don't want to experience. So green leafies it is. Oh, and fats...you always want to take vitamins with fats naturally occurring in your food!
Almost immediately, I noticed a marked improvement in my quality of sleep. It felt like I was sleeping much deeper.

Upon doing some research, I discovered that vitamin D actually helps your body to produce melatonin in your sleep, which in turn helps the body to go into REM or the cycle of sleep most
important for healing and recovery. For those of us dealing with allergies and chronic illness, I cannot emphasize how important this is.

Upon further research, I also found out that vitamin D also helps to strengthen and fortify the pineal gland. Although scientists and researchers don't really have much evidence supporting why the pineal gland exists, as a reiki practitioner with a deep interest in metaphysical and spiritual topics, many spiritual modalities believe the pineal gland to be the 'seat of the soul' or the place where the 'third eye' chakra resides. I know this is going off topic for most of you, so I will just sum up my point by saying my intuition has been oddly much more accurate than usual and my dreams seem to have taken on an eerie 'life of their own,' so to speak.

I felt so good I even got off of antidepressants; it turns out, most of my depressive symptoms were likely due to vitamin D deficiency. The other part has much to do with cytokines released during allergic and gluten reactions, hence why keeping the immune system up is pivotal to our mental health. I am willing to bet that much of the population has no clue how great a part vitamin D plays in our health and well-being!
So until next time, get out in that sunshine (but not too much) and get your vitamin D!

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