Dr. Suess is big in our house right now. The tuck-in process includes “Brush Teeth!”, “Binkie!” (the same purple fleecy blanket every.night.since.November that I have to wash in between naptime and bedtime), and “Book!”. John reads a random selection chosen from our ever expanding library for the wee one, but I get a secret delight when a Dr. Suess book shows up in his hands, especially Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s.
The brilliant Ted Geisel says that D is:
David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck–dog, too.
And it’s also that vitamin that is getting a lot of play with the research world and with a lot of us, too.
Up until last March, Vitamin D was just the “sunshine vitamin” and an additive to my milk. No idea what role it played in my body and I assumed that I was getting enough of it. Au contraire, mon frère.
Last January, in an off-hand remark to my endo, I said I was experiencing horrible pains in my joints. “My family’s arthritis gene is kicking in.” I also admitted that I was exhausted and wasn’t sleeping well, but simply assumed that it was just a consequence of having an infant in the house. He tapped his pen on my chart and asked: “Are you getting charlie horses?”
I gaped at him. “How did you know?”
He scribbled on a lab sheet. “You’re probably Vitamin D deficient. We’ll check your levels and get you back to normal.”
I didn’t go out in the sun very much, wasn’t eating a lot of fish and eggs or drinking fortified milk (I’ll admit, I was living on Diet Coke and whatever I could gobble during the day. Eating healthy was for the baby, not for me.) All of these things, plus the fact that I am diabetic, put me at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
When the lab results came back, his nurse informed me that I was suffering from “severe Vitamin D deficiency” (like, almost into rickets territory) and that I needed to go pick up a prescription stat. 50,000 IU every day for two weeks, then every two week, then one a month. Mega dosing.
Sure enough, once I was back to normal levels, the joint pain went away, I began to sleep better, and no more charlie horses. Unbeknownst to me, another symptom of Vitamin D deficiency is poor concentration. It explained why I couldn’t keep a thought in my head, blaming it on “mommy brain”.
A Vitamin D level is now permanently added to my lab test list. I won’t let it get back into the danger zone. Why? This article: Low Vitamin D Levels May Raise Death Risk in Type 1 Diabetes.
Recently, low levels of vitamin D also have been linked to a higher risk for heart disease and death. Some studies are also looking at possible links between vitamin D and diabetes complications such as kidney and eye disease.
And the kicker:
Patients with type 1 diabetes and very low levels of vitamin D may be more likely to die than those who get enough vitamin D. However, the reasons for this are unclear.
What’s another pill? Nothing in the grand scheme of things…
But it’s not just taking Vitamin D after diagnosis that helps in the long run. According to this article (and a few others), taking Vitamin D can lower the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. 4000 IU each day for an adult and this study gives a recommendation of up to 1000 IU daily for infants and children. For anyone (diabetic or not) planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant, this very scholarly article plainly states:
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy probably increases the incidence of autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, in genetically predisposed individuals.
So, my question is this:
Why does this vitamin play a crucial role in the health maintenance of Type 1 diabetics and in the possible prevention of autoimmune disorders? What makes it so special? Anyone know? I dream about finding the answers…
And so does David Donald Doo.