Thursday, January 5, 2012

Old Vitamin, New Discovery (For Me, Anyway)

Recently, I've become interested in health a lot more and the more I learn about what's good and what's bad to put in our bodies, the more I want to know. Because the more I learn, the more I realize I need to know.

A great source of health information I've found is Dr. Joseph Mercola's web site and his newsletter, which I highly recommend even if you're not into a super-healthy lifestyle. He puts a lot of work into exposing the health risks of the foods we eat these days and the drugs mainstream doctors put us on. As well as recommending supplements for optimal health. And one of those is what I want to tell you about.

About six months ago I decided I should have a full physical and made the necessary appointments, the first being with the lab at my doctor's clinic. They ran a full range of blood tests so the doctor would know as much as possible about my overall condition before seeing me, and truth be told, that's pretty much all he used. Very expedient, and one of the things I find unsatisfying about medical care in this country today - but that's a post for a different day.

So, back to the blood work. One of the things my doctor learned from it was that I was low on Vitamin D and he recommended I start taking a corrective dose of 2000 units a day, about twice what the usual supplementation dose would be.  No problem. I bought a big bottle of 2000 unit gelcaps and started taking them.

Is It Enough?

A few months later, after I had started following Dr. Mercola's blog, I read that the Vitamin D level considered adequate by the mainstream medical community is really only enough to prevent rickets! That we should actually double that at least. So I upped my dose to 4000 units and have been taking that daily ever since.

Now, where this ties into the subject of this blog, Anxiety Disorder, is I started to notice that my generalized anxiety symptoms got better. I still have a problem with stress and get stressed out often, but now I don't seem to feel the physical sensations like I did before. No tightness in my chest, no feeling like my heart's racing. All from taking two of those tiny gelcaps a day!

So this got me thinking about the area where I live and how many other people are diagnosed as being low on this simple vitamin. And how that relates to Seattle's dubious distinctions of being cloudy and gray so much of the time AND its standing as the US city with the highest suicide rate and the highest percentage of people taking anti-depressants. And get this: I read about studies that have shown that a VERY high percentage of people who are clinically depressed and taking meds for it are found to be low (many critically low) on Vitamin D.

Sunshine Makes For Happier People

I was also reminded by Dr. Mercola that the sun's rays are the very best source of Vitamin D (actually that our bodies use those UV rays to synthesize it) and the fact is, most Americans today don't get enough sunshine. Well, where I live, we don't have much opportunity even if we do get away from our desks and computers and get outside.

Without soaking up the sun in sufficient amounts to supply us with enough of this forgotten vitamin, we need to supplement our diet. And, according to Dr. Mercola, an adult should probably take 4000 to 5000 IU per day. If you have anxiety and stress issues, you might want to start with 2000 units and see what happens. That much can't hurt you and you might start to notice the same changes I did. If not, double it. But you might want to have your blood checked first to see where you stand; your doctor might in fact put you on a much higher dose temporarily.

Another thing I should mention is that Vitamin D is well-known as a mood enhancer. When your mood is better, you have a more positive attitude and we also know that will lessen your anxious feelings, don't we?