I’m young, 24 to be exact. I’m relatively fit, finding 5-6 times a week of intense cardio/HIIT/weight classes and long hilly runs to be ‘normal’, and to feel right for me. My routine for the past few years has been: wake up around 6-7am, be educated/work, exercise, make dinner, go for an evening walk/other activity and still have enough energy to find it hard to fall asleep at night. Well, that was true a few months ago… then these symptoms started creeping up on me;
- Feeling dizzy
- Having a constant ‘spacey-head’ feeling
- Lack of concentration (loads of ermmmmmms…., blankly staring at people and saying ‘sorry can you repeat that?’)
- Lack of motivation to exercise (I would otherwise become quite anxious if I’d go 2 days without exercise)
- General lethargy and ‘CBA’ attitude
- Falling asleep as soon as I got in from work (and the extra hours still didn’t feel enough)
- Not wanting to socialise
- Weight gain (even on a controlled calorie diet)
- Low moods and low self-confidence (the start of depression…)
I knew a trip to the doctors was in order. I had some blood tests done for thyroid function, diabetes and anaemia. When they came back all clear, the doctor recommended a low dose of anti-depressants, assuming depression could be the cause to some of my symptoms. This helped a little after the first month of taking the medication but soon enough, I started going back to being all ‘meh’. So another blood test was done, this time for vitamin D and celiac disease. When the doctor recommended looking for vitamin D deficiency, we both assumed vitamin D probably wasn’t going to be the cause of my symptoms, but it was still worth a shot. Yes, I do live in not-so-sunny England and yes, it had been winter, but surely I get enough vitamin D? Turns out I actually am quite deficient in vitamin D.
I’ve always known I get a small dose of the ‘winter blues’ that comes with less sun exposure during winter. But this year I haven’t been able to shake it off. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Looking at my lifestyle, it’s so obvious why this has happened to me.
I’m a vegetarian yet mainly eat a vegan diet (hence the veggie food blog). Vitamin D comes from foods like fish, cereals (which I avoid as they give me digestive problems), beef, cheese and eggs. It is also made in our skin with the help of the sun. During winter, I go to and from work in the dark. In the lab, even though there are plenty of windows, I always wear my lab coat which covers my skin. In the office, I am somewhat in the corner of the room and we have blinds that are down almost all the time. And as time went on, I wanted to go out less and less again, limiting my sun exposure. So no wonder I’m lacking in vitamin D!
What I do now as a young adult will affect my health for the rest of my life. Therefore, I’ve started taking cod liver oil tablets (so I’m no longer a true veggie) and of course, started a loading dose of vitamin D to get me back up to speed. And the sun is starting to put his hat on more often as summer approaches, so bare arm walks for me! I will also put more eggs and cheese into my diet. One cod liver oil tablet a day isn’t going to strip the seas of its fish and I will eat local/free-range eggs.
If you have any of the above symptoms, take a quick visit to your GP. Vitamin D deficiency in the long run can lead to some nastier problems and has been linked to dementia and heart disease.
Your physical and mental health is something you need to nurture, assess and maintain. This is essential for you to have a happy, healthy and long life.
This elephant is a gachapon find from my visit to Tokyo in 2015.