So the last two weeks have been hellish. My entire family has been down for the count with a local, virulent virus. My husband got sent away on business so I was left to care for two 15-month old whining, tantrumy babies on my own. Week. From. Hell.
I’ve been experimenting with Vitamin D lately. I had read an article on the antibiotic properties of Vitamin D so thought I would try it out. At the first sign of illness, I downed 12,000 units. The next day, 10,000 and another 10,000 the next. Nothing. Flat-on-my-ass sick. When my head cleared enough for me to get on the Internet, I read that article again and realized that I had goofed. I needed to take 25,000-50,000 units each day. Next time I get sick, I’ll try more cause it sure as hell didn’t work this time.
Most of us are Vitamin D deficient, which is why we seem to catch every cold and flu going around. The darker your skin, the more Vitamin D you need. To figure out how much the average person needs, multiply 35 x your weight. That’s how many units you should take each day. For my 22 lb kids, that means they need 770 units a day, almost TWICE the RDA for an adult.
The RDA for Vitamin D is horribly outdated. 400 units a day is the minimum amount needed to prevent rickets, but won’t do much more for you. Unless you’re outside for 6 hours a day without sunscreen, wearing nothing but a loin cloth, you need more.
I wear sunscreen on my face and neck because I’m vain and I don’t want wrinkles. I don’t put it anywhere else, or on my kids at all unless we’re going to the beach. Regardless, we just don’t spend enough time in the sun to get our full daily requirement. So, we have to supplement.
I had been taking 3000 units of Vitamin D a day for over 6 months. I decided to go and have my blood levels tested and found that they were actually LOW. Only 59. Ideal levels are between 60 – 85. Since I was so close, the doctor wasn’t concerned, but I was. How could I be taking 3000 ui a day and have less than ideal levels? Well, here’s why: First off, when I use the above equation, I actually require 5915 ui a day for optimal blood levels. (Do the reverse math, now you know how much I weigh, LOL) Not only that, but I was taking my Vitamin D in tablet format.
Unfortunately for the people who take tablet supplements, Vitamin D is fat soluble. That means you need to take it with some fat in order for your body to absorb it. I had been taking it at the same time as my fish oil, but obviously that wasn’t doing the trick. I immediately switched to 6000 ui a day of Vitamin D3 drops in coconut oil – 1,000 units per drop. (If you can’t find these drops, you can always get olive oil gel tabs.) I almost immediately felt a difference. I’ve always suffered from seasonal depression, not bad enough that I can’t function, but at certain times, I have low energy, feel a little down, a little depressed and things can get overwhelming. I shit you not, the very next day after starting the Vitamin D drops, I felt a shift. Those feelings were GONE. Just gone. I feel fantastic now.
I try to remember to take 3000 ui in the morning and another 3000 at night. Or if I’m afraid I’ll forget later, I just take it all at once. Whatever. It’s next to impossible to overdose on Vitamin D, so don’t be scared of it (but don’t let your infants play with the bottle, either. You still need to be responsible. Tsk.). My mom refuses to up her dosage even though most of what she’s getting is a) in tablet form, b) taken along with Vitamin A, which blocks the absorption of Vitamin D, and c) an insufficient amount. Mom, according to my calculations, you should be taking 4340 ui a day, not the paltry 2000 you’re taking in your One-A-Day now. Maintaining optimal D levels prevents the following plagues of modern society. We should all urge our loved ones to get their levels right. Upwards of 85% of us are vitamin D deficient and it shows:
Associated With Vitamin D Deficiency:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Chronic Pain
- Decline in physical functioning in the elderly
- Decline in mental function
- Gingivitis, Periodontal Disease and Cavities
- Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Heart Failure
I’ll have my blood levels checked again in 6 months and report back. In the meantime, I feel fan-frickin’-tastic. So, why did I get sick? Aren’t optimal Vitamin D levels supposed to boost our immune system and keep us from catching most stuff that’s going around?
In the midst of this cold from hell, my mother-in-law asked me for some information on how to boost your immune system. I thought it was ironic since I was horribly ill and was evidently doing something wrong. Upon further reflection, I figured it out. Here’s what I did to make myself sick:
The day I was exposed to the virus, I went out for dinner. I ate a great Primal meal of bacon-wrapped filet mignon, salad and sautéed vegetables. Then, I ate half of a slice of cheesecake for dessert. With whipped cream. In retrospect, the salad dressing tasted a little sweet and there were dried cranberries in the salad so I had already eaten sugar before dessert was even ordered. Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease. The sugar lowered my immune system just enough to let the virus in. I traced it back for the last couple of cold that I’ve gotten, and realized that I get sick every time I deviate from the Primal lifestyle in regards to sugar AND there’s a cold going around.
(Click on that link and you’ll find 76 other reasons why you shouldn’t eat sugar.) I had also forgotten my evening dosage of Vitamin D two days in a row.
So, boosting your immune system. Can’t say I’m the best person to ask at this particular moment in time, but start with Vitamin D. Then cut out sugar. Get lots of sleep, exercise and nurture yourself. Get outside and get some fresh air. Eat lots of vegetables and some fruit. Everything else is just a gimmick.