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Understanding Vitamin D Deficiency & How To Fight It

How do you increase your Vitamin D through diet? What foods are high in Vitamin D? Where can you find the best recipes to increase your Vitamin D? These were the questions that came to mind after I hung up with my doctor. She had just informed me that my blood work was back and my Vitamin D levels were low. I had just been diagnosed with severe Vitamin D Deficiency. After prescribing me a high dose of Vitamin D she encouraged me to try to be aware of what I was consuming and how much sun I was getting.

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Vitamin D Deficiency - Symptoms

My Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

I actually take 1000 IU of Vitamin D daily so this result was a surprise. My Vitamin D deficiency is courtesy of a particular medication I have been taking for the last few years. I thought that same medication was the reason I was experiencing bone pain, muscle pain, and so much fatigue. I had sat in my doctor’s office earlier that week saying,

“My metabolism is broken. Like in half. Not working at all.” I explained to her gesturing to my ever-expanding waistline. “That, or maybe it’s that I have to push so hard for everything. I’m getting tired way too easily. I can’t do my normal stuff. I can’t even do my yoga, and you know how I adore my yoga!”

The last six months have been a constant push. I’ve felt exhausted. Honestly, I’ve had to dig deep to keep up in a way I never have before. I knew something was up.

Could it be the stress of living in a world so full of division and Covid? After all, I have had to delete all the news apps from my phone and trim my social media contacts down to the bare minimum in an effort to protect my breaking heart. I was blaming that for my fatigue. Heartbreak over the state of the world. It seemed likely. But I was wrong.

Instead, my Vitamin D levels were plummeting like a stone through water. A boulder even.

Vitamin D Deficiency is determined through a blood test.

What Should Your Vitamin D Level Be?

I got a 16. Normal levels are between 30 and 80. I failed my Vitamin D test. This, during Covid and me with surgery scheduled for October. Not cool.

Vitamin D Supplement

What Does Vitamin D Do For Your Body?

Vitamin D hooks your body up in a lot of important ways.

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

Healthline

Did you know Vitamin D also fights disease, reduces depression, and boosts weight loss? Yeah, you need it. A lot.

As a girl who spends a lot of time outside enjoying mountain peaks and walking along the river, getting enough sunshine had never been an issue before. But I have been staying so tired I just couldn’t bring myself to head to the mountains and my daily walks have been staggered further and further apart. I just couldn’t.

Sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D.

What To Do To Overcome Vitamin D Deficiency!

Sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D.

So while I will be regularly consuming my prescribed 50,000 IU of Vitamin D weekly for the next three months, I won’t stop there. This experience has encouraged me to spend twenty minutes a day outside fighting Vitamin D deficiency one Dean Koontz novel at a time. I’ve literally been setting a timer and I carved a slot out of my schedule marked with a bright orange sun.

Also, I’ve put together a diet that includes foods that offer Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually rather elusive, especially for those of us lactose intolerant. There are not a whole lot of food options that offer it in abundance. Here is what I found.

Foods That Offer Vitamin D

Foods That Offer Vitamin D

Cereals and Fortified Juice

A lot of cereals and certain orange juices are fortified with Vitamin D. I stocked up on cereal (Honeycomb, Honeynut Cheerios, and Cocoa Pebbles). I also found out that adding bananas is a great idea. Bananas contain magnesium which helps activate that Vitamin D.

I don’t normally eat cereal because I’ve always been turned off by the carb counts. With my new perspective, I will be choosing food based on what it has to offer instead of always focusing on how it might affect weight. Portion control instead of refusal. I will not be denied the good stuff.

One Fish. Two Fish. Red Fish. Blue Fish.

I was born and raised a Mainer so you may be surprised to learn that I despise fish. I love shellfish. But I have never enjoyed fish at all. Except when I was pregnant and I went through this weird tuna fish phase that I was happy to put behind me. Well, hello again tuna!

Turns out oily fish is one of our best options for Vitamin D.

  • Salmon (wild-caught, as farmed may contain only 25% of the Vitamin D found in wild salmon. – NCBI )
  • Tuna – Not all tuna is good. I researched and ended up with Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna. Wild Planet submits their products to third party mercury testing. The brand offers a variety of canned tuna (both albacore and skipjack) and it comes packed in olive oil, no salt added, and standard varieties. Eat This not That
  • Sardines – Just 3 oz. of sardines are enough for your daily dose of vitamin D.

So, just imagine my excitement. How in the world is a girl supposed to make sardines taste good? I can’t even begin to imagine. But I’m no quitter. If a sardine can be made tasty, I’ll find the recipe that can achieve that miracle. And I’ll share it with you.

Other Foods High In Vitamin D

  • Egg Yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Almond Milk
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Cod Liver Oil

Yum. Yum. Yum. Not. Ugh. Ok, so I feel like I just opened an especially challenging box on Chopped. But then again, I always wanted to be on Chopped.

I’m going to follow up with a collection of the recipes that actually taste good as I have a chance to try them out. I’ll weed out the icky ones for you. But I really want to encourage you to pay attention to what’s going on with your body. Are you consuming enough of these nutrients? Are you getting enough sunshine? Now is the time to invest in that supplement. This is the moment to make changes to your grocery list.

It’s going to take me at least three months to get my levels back up and then they still want me to take 2000 mg a day after that to maintain it. Don’t be me. Be preventative.

Take care of yourself! Fill yourself up with sunshine my friend,

Gwen

*Note – I am not a doctor, just a girl dealing with this. Consult your doctor and get help if you think you may be suffering from this. There is help to be found.*

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