PSA: Vitamin D

Are you taking vitamin D supplements at your house? You probably should be!

At our house, we’ve got multivitamins and vitamin D supplements, plus, with COVID, some Airborne in the kitchen cabinet. But I wouldn’t say we were particularly vigilant about actually taking them every day. When the girls were little, I’d make their breakfast and put out the gummy multivitamins each morning, but as they got older and started to serve themselves, that fell by the wayside. They knew where the vitamins were, just like they knew where to find the food, but I wouldn’t closely monitor their consumption. Sure, if I was getting out vitamins for myself, I’d ask whoever else was in the kitchen if they’d like them, but as the kids grew into healthy teenagers who ate vegetables, I figured I could coast.

Turns out I was wrong.

Everyone knows you get vitamin D from sunlight, but that doesn’t work so great during winter in Upstate New York. Your best dietary sources for vitamin D are things like fatty fish, red meat, liver, and egg yolks. . . which aren’t easy options if your kids lean vegetarian-ish. Often milk, orange juice, & breakfast cereals contain vitamin D supplements, but we don’t consume much of any of those. At this point, Cute W’s the only one who’ll still drink cow’s milk. So when J was feeling run down, her pediatrician suggested a blood test, and she called a few days later.

J was deficient in vitamin D. Actually, the phrase our doctor used was “massively deficient.” Massively deficient!

So J got a prescription mega-dose, and the doctor advised all of us to take supplements. Vitamin D is good for the immune system and fighting off viruses and bacteria, and some preliminary studies are saying that it’s helpful for fighting COVID specifically. Our doctor said that right now anyone who’s living Upstate New York should be taking vitamin D because the sun’s so weak and it’s worth bucking your system up during the pandemic. So now we are fully on board with taking all our vitamins, plus of course I ordered some to send to Colorado.

Obviously I am not feeling like I can strut around wearing a “Mother of the Year” sash these days, but I’m taking this opportunity to update you, Dear Reader, because the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can feel a lot like what I thought were just symptoms of living in 2020. And at our house, all of these symptoms have markedly improved since J started her supplements. Here are a few:

Fatigue/feeling run down. I mean, I feel like all of us have been feeling fatigue as we struggle through our pandemic winter, but it’s also a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D can also help you sleep better, so if you haven’t been sleeping well lately, that makes perfect sense, given the circumstances. But also, vitamin D might help.

Depression/mood issues. Obviously, high school going online-only (it has, for the moment at least), a lack of activities, and limited opportunities to see friends would have any kid bummed out, but J is absolutely feeling better since her mega-doses of D have kicked in.

Skin issues like acne or itchiness. Yes, kids are suffering from “maskne,” and stress and staying home all day close to the fridge can’t be great for skin. But vitamin D helps reduce inflammation and promote wound-healing. In J’s case, her skin is the prettiest it’s been in months. Yes, she changed her skin routine, but the D’s clearly helped.

Muscle aches and soreness. After a long hiatus, J was able to do some volleyball starting in November. She said she was really sore after her practices. I figured that soreness made sense, since she hadn’t been working out at all. After starting vitamin D supplement, she reports that she doesn’t get sore anymore.

In retrospect, it feels unbelievably obvious that of course, J was missing out on a much-needed vitamin. But over the course of months, all of the symptoms could be explained away by circumstances, and nothing was severe enough to make us alarmed. I feel really, really glad that I called the pediatrician at all, and we absolutely went to take the blood test sort of half rolling our eyes that the doctor was being overly cautious and alarmist. Getting proper nutrition is the kind of thing that I fretted about so much when the kids were infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. But then the girls grew up into strong teenagers who love to snack on veggies and fruits, and concerns about the dietary specifics had dropped off my radar. So, just in case, I’m putting this on your radar. Let’s get everyone through this winter safe and healthy!

Oh, and off-topic but fun: we enjoyed a mini-parade brought to us by the Niskayuna fire fighters. If I’d known about it ahead of time, I would’ve gotten a photo of the front of Santa instead of his back.

2 Comments

  1. Big Sister

    Hmm. I wonder if this runs in the family. I too have trouble getting enough Vitamin D and have had that massive dose thingy a couple of times. For me it goes hand in hand with not enough calcium – so my doctor has me on extra of that too. It is amazing what happens when you are missing a couple of key ingredients! Glad Miss J is better.

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