September 26, 2012

Vitamin D For Your Health

Three years ago, I suffered from severe migraines. I mean, I would have multi-day migraines at least once a week, sometimes more. They became so debilitating that I could not function. I was miserable. I could not move some days. Getting up and going to work hurt so much that I would vomit.

I was not even sure what to do about it. I have had migraines since I was ten. I’ve been poked and prodded and scanned and x-rayed in every way possible. I’ve tried preventative prescription drugs that just made me slow and groggy. I tried prescription pain killers specially formatted for migraines, and although they worked, I often had to suffer through their side effects. I was miserable.

Then I found a different doctor. She’s not quite holistic, nor does she simply rely on Western Medicine. She sees use in both. After telling her my migraine history, she immediately checked two things: my levels of vitamin D and thyroid. Within a week, she learned that I have low thyroid production and extremely low levels of vitamin D. Apparently, my body does not absorb and retain vitamin D very well. So my doctor prescribed me to take 4000-6000 International Units (IU) per a day until we found a balance. She also prescribed me a thyroid management medication. These two prescriptions—one holistic and one Western Medicine—have reduced my migraines from at least one per week to one a year. Vitamin D saved my life, or at least it now allows me to live without pain.

Okay, but that’s one instance where vitamin D helped, why else should we consider taking vitamin D? Well, redOrbit recently reported that low levels of vitamin D heightens heart attack risks. Since heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, most specifically amongst women, I’d say that’s a pretty good reason to consider taking vitamin D.

If readers need more support, the National Osteoporosis Foundation notes that to protect bones, people must have vitamin D because it is required to absorb calcium. Both women and men must be conscientious of bone health, but women particularly suffer from osteoporosis and other bone health issues. That’s another reason all should look at the “sun vitamin.”

The National Institutes of Health shows that vitamin D helps with immune system functions. If we have a strong immune system, then we can better fight off common viruses like the cold or flu. Everyone wants a way to fight off both of these. If we have a healthy immune system, we can avoid the frustrations of the cold and flu season.

So far, vitamin D has been found to help the cardiovascular system, bones, and the immune system. But if these are not convincing enough, the National Cancer Institute reports that many scientific studies have found a role for vitamin D in cancer prevention. Oh, and this summer redOrbit detailed that low levels of this beneficial vitamin contributes to weight gain. Yep, we can possibly fight gaining weight by simply getting enough vitamin D.

Of course, just like with everything, studies exist that contradict many of these claims. However, I can say that since I’ve begun taking vitamin D, I have not had a cold, the flu, or really any immune issues other than my seasonal allergies. I no longer suffer from constant headaches nor do I have regular migraines. I have not lost weight but neither have I gained any in the three years since I added it to my regular diet. I feel better, honestly, since I added the vitamin D supplement. And the studies and reports that discuss the benefits of vitamin D to the heart and bones, not to mention the possibilities of cancer prevention, make this a vitamin worthy of consideration. Naturally, before taking anything we should always consult our doctors who know what medicines we take and the risks of interactions between those and vitamin D. However, go in prepared. Research the benefits of vitamin D. It just might make life worth living again. I know it did for me.

Image Credit: ducu59us / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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