The symptoms of deficiency can be crippling!
Have you received your daily dose of D? Now get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking Vitamin D, one crazy hard core bastard of a vitamin that everyone needs, but few have enough of.
As vegans, we have been warned from the beginning, of the possibilities of the big boy deficiencies to look out for – B12, Iron, and Protein. When the hell did Vitamin D come into the picture?
I became a vegetarian in January 2015. By February 2015, I was a full-fledged vegan and so proud of that. I lost weight. Animals were saved. I was making an important impact on our environment. Unicorns and rainbows were sprouting up everywhere. My health was never better. I was riding the wave of veganism.
THEN MY HAIR STARTED FALLING OUT, BREAKING OFF, AND THINNING. Every time I showered, globs of hair formed in the drain. I could feel the difference when shampooing. People at work started asking me why I cut my long, BUTT LENGTH hair. I was about eight months into veganism. I was feeling run down. My joints ached. I felt like the flu was coming on. I needed to take multiple breaks at my very demanding physical job. I was tired. I was scared.
I called my doctor and went and had blood work ordered. They checked my thyroid, iron, and B12 levels. A complete blood count was done. All the labs came back perfectly normal. WTF?
By then February had rolled around. We live in a cold cloudy climate in the northern USA during the autumn and winter months. I took matters into my own hands. I tried to research all I could online. I started taking a multiple vitamin, plus a biotin special hair growth vitamin. Spring and summer rolled in and I got outside in my beloved garden. I planted and grew tons of organic vegetables hoping to help my nutrient levels. I hadn’t been out there much the year before because of work responsibilities, but still had no clue what was going on with my body.
Slowly but surely I thought my hair was coming back or at least slowing down on the loss. If this was about what getting old felt like, I was not happy. Early autumn came and I slipped on a chair caulking my sky window. I broke my ribs. It was one of the most painful experiences in my life. As I healed, my hair started falling out again. It was more than six inches shorter and still thinning and breaking off. What the fuck was happening to me? My skin was super dry. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I cried every time I took a shower. I did more research with no results. By January of 2016, I had scheduled another doctor’s appointment. It had been a whole year since I was checked out medically. Something wasn’t right. Was it the fact that I gave up meat and dairy? Were the stereotypes true? Were vegans weak and had all sorts of health issues? Should I start eating meat and dairy again? I was terrified.
When I showed up at the doctor’s office, he at first explained that his grandmother had thinning hair and that’s what happens with age. “I’m 46 Doc, not 96!”
He suggested running another complete blood lab work up, only this time he said he wanted to include a Vitamin D check too. Vitamin D? Wasn’t Vitamin D for strong bones and teeth? The doctor said a deficiency in D could cause a whole host of issues including aches, pains, depression, heart and other cardiovascular issues, a precursor to some cancers, and of course hair loss.
After getting my blood drawn, I went home and like most google doctors, I researched the hell out of Vitamin D. Wow? I had just about every symptom listed. Then I looked up sources of Vitamin D. Was it because I had given up meat and dairy? NOPE. No D in either unless it’s fortified. So, what were the sources of D?
- Fatty fish
- Fortified milks
- Fortified juices
I hadn’t been out in the sun very much for the last year. I have never eaten fatty fish or even liked cow’s milk long before becoming a vegan. I wasn’t taking special Vitamin D supplements. It made perfect sense and answered so many questions. Within a day, my vitamin D levels came back low and no one was surprised. I was a 23. 30-100 is good, but research is saying even 30 isn’t high enough now. Not surprising. I was put on a prescription of 50,000 units of Vitamin D a week, plus my added 1000 units in my multivitamin, for eight weeks. We started stocking the house with fortified juices, plant based milks, and mushrooms. I started tanning a few days a week.
It took months and I mean months to start feeling better. My skin improved. My aches and pains disappeared. In October of that year, nine months after starting my Vitamin D repair, my hair finally felt better, thickness and length were on the mend. I was more than elated and super grateful for a solution.
In the meantime, my omnivore neighbor, and a coworker were also diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. It’s an epidemic in the climate I live in. Captain UK was diagnosed with the same deficiency about six months later. A good friend was diagnosed with it two years, TWO FUCKING YEARS after aches, pains, physical therapy, doctor after doctor and barely even able to sit in a chair due to the hurt and weakness of this deficiency.
I am reposting this blog with a little update to help everyone who may run across this. I had a coworker come up to me today asking me about my vitamin D deficiency problems. She had heard through the work grapevine that I, along with others had been diagnosed with this horrible vitamin deficiency. She had the same exhausting symptoms I use to have and seemed happy to talk to someone about hers. She was blown away at all that Vitamin D can do for your body and mind. She is now on 50,000 units a week for awhile through her doctor. If you live in a cloudy climate and you don’t get much sunshine, please see your doctor for a simple blood test. You deserve to live life to it’s fullest.
It’s amazing what one simple nutrient can do. That Vitamin D is a dick! Don’t let him be a dick to you. Get plenty.