Cholesterol Down!

Approximately 3 months have passed since I saw my family physician and he provided me with HIS opinion regarding the steps I had taken to become healthier. Needless to say, he wasn’t all that supportive, in fact did not like that I was eliminating animal products and decreasing the amount of fat. He saw this as a short term solution to a long term problem (high cholesterol). Thankfully it was diet and no his prescription that got me on the road to health.

Today was just another milestone in that road to health. While I didn’t agree with my physician’s assessment that I was “deficient” in Vitamin D. Based on the paperwork I received a level from 10-29 ng/mL was a “insufficiency” while my doctor chose to call it something else. At any rate he prescribed 50,000 IU per week in order to raise my level. While I stand by my opinion that his prescription wasn’t needed the end result was positive as my recent blood test showed. My 25(OH)D level increased 11 points from 23 to 34, which now falls in the “optimum” range.

More importantly my cholesterol (TC) level continues is downward spiral. Starting from my July, 2011 total of 264 I improved my TC, decreasing it 64 points to 199 by December, 2011. Now, 3 months later I have lost another 24 points down to 175! This on diet alone, no big pharma intervention here and his prescription of a statin was NOT the answer. I am not just 25 points away from my TC goal of 150 mg/dL, with any luck this “short term solution” *sarcasm* will continue to see my health improve.

All indicators are positive when it comes to my health. In all honesty, I have probably never been healthier. My weight is down 33 pounds, currently at 183 with a goal of 175 in sight. I am lifting weights 4 times a week and trying to get 20-30 minutes of walking in a day while at work. Many of the ailments I had are all but forgotten, now if I could only get a straight answer for my knee ailment I would be in better shape. For me this lifestyle change has been the answer, but as I have said before, not everyone is open for this drastic of a change when it comes to food they love.

Not Down with ‘D’

I am in a quandary over the dose of Vitamin D I was prescribed in early January and I wrote about in Vitamin D(on’t). As I wrote, I wish I went armed with more information before agreeing to take this 50,000 IU weekly for 3 months prescribed by my physician. I have been taking this dose for 3 weeks now and without going in for a blood test I won’t know if there has been an increase in my 25-hydroxyvitamin D level. That test isn’t supposed to occur the end of March.

Further discussion and research having me raising a red flag to this “vitamin” and I am not sure my physician is out for my health. Instead of getting clarity on the situation I am more confused. How do I tell my physician I don’t want to take his recommendation, backed with studies and information I have gleaned from the Internet?

Just because I was not trained in the medical field doesn’t mean I need to agree with my doctor. Without his consent I took myself off a statin last year and I am very close to taking myself off the Vitamin D. With or without him agreeing. I wish I had multiple blood test results to compare my 25(OH)D levels, but I don’t. December, 2011 was the first (and not the last) time this level had been measured. I do believe I can attribute it to my job. I spend approximately 10 hours in darkness considering I am up at 4am and don’t leave work until 2pm.

Over the course of 5 years I can think my 25(OH)D level has decreased, again because of my job. During the summer time I will end up spending more time outside, in the sun but making soaking up the sun can’t be a seasonal thing and must occur year around.

From the National Institutes of Health, “Practically all people are sufficient at levels ≥50 nmol/L (≥20 ng/mL); the committee stated that 50 nmol/L is the serum 25(OH)D level that covers the needs of 97.5% of the population.” My 25(OH)D level was recorded as 23 in December, 2011. By way of comparison, my wife was recorded at a level of 16 last month. The nurse practitioner prescribed her to take 1000 IU a day. Yet I am taking 50000 IU weekly for an 25(OH)D level of 23 or approximate 7142 IU daily! The numbers just don’t work for me.

A vitamin D deficiency can occur when usual intake is lower than recommended levels over time, exposure to sunlight is limited, the kidneys cannot convert 25(OH)D to its active form, or absorption of vitamin D from the digestive tract is inadequate. Vitamin D-deficient diets are associated with milk allergy, lactose intolerance, ovo-vegetarianism, and veganism” (source). I don’t think I have been following a plant-based, whole food lifestyle long enough to see my level as a “deficiency.” Two abstracts agree, “people with occupations that limit sun exposure are unlikely to obtain adequate vitamin D from sunlight.” (source, source).

As with ANY medication prescribed the list of side effects are rather appalling. This list is courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.

Late symptoms of severe overdose

  • High blood pressure
  • High fever
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach pain (severe)

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Early symptoms of overdose

  • Bone pain
  • Constipation (especially in children or adolescents)
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dryness of mouth
  • Headache (continuing)
  • Increased thirst
  • Increase in frequency of urination, especially at night, or in amount of urine
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Itching skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Metallic taste
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea or vomiting (especially in children or adolescents)
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

Late symptoms of overdose

  • Bone pain
  • Calcium deposits (hard lumps) in tissues outside of the bone
  • Cloudy urine
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased sensitivity of eyes to light or irritation of eyes
  • Itching of skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Mood or mental changes
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Protein in the urine
  • Redness or discharge of the eye, eyelid, or lining of the eyelid
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss

Remind me, WHY should I be taking this? For my healthy? To support my physician’s wallet? To date, I haven’t noticed any “early symptoms” to speak of. I have been reading C: The Blog, there are some interesting comments from other individuals using Vitamin D at varying levels.