Are you getting enough?

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This post may not be exactly what you were thinking when you saw the title but the topic I’m going to speak about is a little boring but very important so I had to name it something with a little bit of mystery to get your attention… please forgive me!

Most people lead such busy lives its easy to think feeling tired and stressed is the norm. Often tiredness is a result of a lack of sleep or poor diet but when you try and improve these aspects of your life and see no changes it can become worrying. I by no means have any medical qualifications but I do have some knowledge of how vitamin deficiencies can significantly impact your life through my own experience.

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I’ll take you back to the beginning of 2015, I was in my last year of Uni writing my dissertation and revising for my upcoming exams. This time in your life is one of the most stressful and so at first I felt my constant exhaustion, aching muscles, low mood and frequent colds were a result of stress. It all got too much for me, I felt awful and became concerned I was seriously ill. I’d never felt like I did, the level of tiredness was so severe it was impacting my daily life. I started going to bed earlier, napping during the day, taking an iron supplement, drinking energy drinks and eating healthier but nothing seemed to help. My tiredness became exhaustion, some mornings I couldn’t get out of bed so I was missing lectures and even when I did make it to Uni I found it so hard to concentrate and everything was just a blur. I was so worried about my health but also the impact this was going to have on my final grade so I went to the doctor. I explained my symptoms and she said it could be a lack of Iron, a Vitamin deficiency or even that one of my vital organs was failing (thanks hun) and that she’d like me to have a blood test done. The results showed a severe lack of Vitamin D, they had most likely got this low due to the vast amount of time I was spending inside studying and not spending any amount of time outside in the daylight. I was given a prescription for strong Vitamin D tablets and had to take four a day for twelve weeks. During the twelve weeks I had another blood test to check my levels were increasing and luckily they were. It wasn’t until near the end of the twelve weeks I started to feel much better and the dark cloud of tiredness that was over my head began to lift. The University recognised the impact the deficiency had on my work and with the support of having a note from my doctor they gave me extra consideration for my exams. Luckily with all of the support and getting the diagnosis and medication when I did I still managed to meet my target of a 2:1.

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Fast forwards to around the same time this year I started feeling exactly the same as I did back then and so went back to the doctor who after a blood test confirmed I again had severely low levels of Vitamin D. This time I’ve been prescribed four tablets a day for 8 weeks, its shorter this time due to my levels getting too high previously and they don’t want this to happen again as this can also cause problems. I’ve already been back to the doctor and had another blood test, my levels aren’t increasing as much as they’d like this time and so I’ve been told I will need another blood test in a couple of weeks. This is something that they’re keen to keep an eye on as it could indicate an underlying problem if the levels keep dropping and don’t increase with medication. I’m not surprised the levels have became too low this year and the nurse did warn me in a completely unrelated appointment last year after a blood test that I’d probably need to be tested again this year. I personally think this is down to spending all day inside, I have an office based job and in the winter when going in the morning its been dark and when going home in the evening its also been dark so I’ve barely had any of the little sun we do sometimes get.

It’s not until something like this effects you that you realise how common it is. Around a quarter of the population in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D due to our lifestyles where most people spend a significant amount in time and also due to lack of sun the country gets. Vitamin D is hard to get from food alone but eating oily fish and certain breakfast cereals can be beneficial. Mushrooms are also one of the best completely natural sources of Vitamin D.

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If you’ve read this, you think these symptoms sound familiar and you’ve tried all you can in terms of changing your lifestyle to make yourself feel better then go along to the NHS website. Have a look at the information they provide on Vitamin D deficiencies and book in for a chat with your doctor to discuss your symptoms. Leaving a Vitamin D deficiency for too long can lead to lots of health problems including Ricketts so its important to get it checked out.

As mentioned before I’m not a health professional and this post is written using my own experiences.  Seek professional advice before taking any medication

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