When’s the last time you got bloodwork done?  When I was a kid we had to get yearly physicals in order to play sports. Then through my 20s since I was no longer required to do it, I didn’t. I would just go for my yearly ob-gyn checkup, but I didn’t have a regular doctor checking my bloodwork.

That lasted until 2010, when I went through a spell where I was really tired and even dizzy. I found a doctor and it turns out my vitamin B12 and vitamin D were low, and my iron was borderline-low. I got a vitamin B12 shot, and started taking B12 everyday. I also took a high dose of D3 every day for 3 months and was able to get my levels up to 50 (ideal range is 50-80).

Now that I work with a doctor, I understand that we should all get our bloodwork done every single year. It is so important! You want to ask your doctor for a full panel so you can see your cholesterol levels, glucose, check the thyroid, and see if you have any vitamin deficiencies. You do not want to be in the dark about your health and if anything is off you want to jump in and make changes right away!

Even though I KNOW this, I stalled on making an appointment because I’m a huge baby about bloodwork. Last week I finally got checked again.

Well, everything looks good except my iron is low and my vitamin D3 level is 16! (Remember the ideal range is 50 – 80 ng/mL!)

I’ll talk about iron another time, but for now I’ll address the D3:

– Vitamin D is actually a hormone not a vitamin.

– We get D from the sun, but living in the northeast I’m not getting much, especially through the winter months. Or as Dr. Cowan says “we are no longer running around naked in nature, so it’s almost impossible for us to get enough sun to keep our levels optimal.”

– There is some D in fortified milk (which I don’t drink) and fatty wild fish, but the most reliable source is the SUN and SUPPLEMENTS.

-Vitamin D is hugely important for immunity, healthy bones, protecting against cancer, and it makes hundreds of enzymes and proteins in the body.

– The test you should ask your doctor for is 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25 OH vitamin D)

– If your levels are low, make sure to supplement with D3 and not D2. D2 is useless.

We see tons of patients with low vitamin D and I’m kind of embarrassed to be in their ranks, since I’ve been schooled on how important it is.  I thought that what I was getting in my multivitamin was enough to keep my levels up, but it clearly wasn’t.

To correct my low levels, I am now taking 10,000 units of D3 a day for at least the next 3 months under my doctor’s care. Then I will get checked again, and should be able to scale back to a maintenance dose, which for me will probably be 5,000 IU.

Low levels of D can be linked with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder, so I’m hoping that correcting my levels with help with the anxiety I mentioned last week. I’m also hoping it will help my skin. I will keep you posted.

To get some much more detailed info about the importance of vitamin D and how to correct low levels, please read Dr. Lipman’s Vitamin D FAQ’s. And for a funny little video showing a patient asking his doctor about vitamin D:

Please learn from my mistakes and have your doctor check your vitamin D!

Love and sunshine,