A few weeks ago I learned that nearly everyone in the Pacific Northwest is probably Vitamin D deficient, especially in the wintertime. We're so far north that our sunlight is weak, and that combined with the cloudy weather for most of the year means that most people don't get enough sunlight to make the Vitamin D that their body needs.
Somehow I still get sunburn in August, though.
You can get more Vitamin D from food, especially dairy, but it is not always enough. I recently visited a naturopathic doctor (who is also a registered nurse), and one of the tests she ran was for Vitamin D. Turns out my level was near the limit of quantitation at about 12, when the acceptable range is about 35-100 and she prefers people to be up to at least 60. So I am now taking 5000 ID of Vitamin D every day to get my levels up, in addition to a few other supplements that she suggested based on other lab results. My magnesium is a bit low, as is my DHA, so I'm taking supplements for both of those, as well as an Omega 3-6-9 fish oil pill that she likes to see everyone on, and a regular multivitamin.
Vitamins and supplements are such tricky things, with bioavailability being difficult to quantify, little regulation on quality, and constant arguing by doctors and councils about what people really need. So many products are not usable by the body, basically resulting in expensive urine, so I've never really seriously looked into taking anything more than the occasional multivitamin or some Vitamin C when starting to get sick. I'm glad that this doctor had a range of tests she could run to find out what my body needed, and I'm hoping that this will improve my health and alertness. I'm so annoyed with being naturally cold and tired all of the time! I will go back to visit her in a month to see what effects, if any, are seen and to possibly retest a few levels to see how I am improving.
For now, I'm taking seven pills with my dinner. I feel a bit like an old fart with my packed-full pillcase. I've seen one improvement already, though - at my blood donation at work on Wednesday, my hematocrit was 46, which is a record high for me. Usually I'm flirting with anemia at their lowest acceptable level of 36. So if this is not a fluke, at least one thing is improving with the use of the supplements!
In addition to taking the vitamins, I am paying more attention to what and how much I am eating. I've been doing pretty well with meat portions for quite some time, as I tend to buy things like chicken when they're buy-one-get-one-free and then portion out 8oz servings into zippy bags to freeze. Pasta and potato portions are trickier, as somehow what the correct portion is doesn't actually seem that way. I've gone from using three potatoes to just two, and making sure that my serving of spaghetti is 1/3 of what I cook (3 servings in a half-package) rather than 1/2. Even the rice cooker usage has gotten slimmed down from 1 cup at a time to just 1/2 cup, meaning a perfect serving for both of us when cooked without any leftovers. I got into the habit of using 1 full cup with my first rice cooker, in order to account for the burned crusty stuff at the bottom, but with the Zojirushi there is never a problem like that, so everything cooked can be eaten.
Watching portions has the additional beneficial effect of reducing our grocery bill, or at least the amount of food we buy. I still wish I could buy a small stasis chamber for fruits and vegetables, however. But for now, I'll take what I can get, and any reduction in a recurrent bill is a good thing these days.