January has always been a “blah” month for me. After all the lead-up and hyper over Christmas (especially now having children), January comes with a brutal hangover. Suddenly, the reality of days on end of eating huge meals, sweets, chocolate, not to mention copious amounts of wine at family functions, catches up to you when you put on your work pants and they are just a bit more snug than they were a week ago. There’s the task of taking down the Christmas tree, and explaining to the kids why the tree is out on the curb waiting for the garbage man to pick up. There’s 10 days of having to entertain your child while she is off school. Really, there is only so much Play-Doh I can handle. There’s the late, late nights with husband watching Taxi Driver, the entire Lord of the Rings and Alien trilogies, which by the way, is a lot of fun. Oh, and did I mention I was also working and covering two other practices? Yeah, so no wonder I greeted January with one measure of fatigue, two measures of new flab and a measure of low mood.
I’ve been quite grumpy for the past week or so, mostly because I don’t know how to say no. I agreed to cover for my two colleagues during the holidays – paid, of course. We have an arrangement where we pay each other for lab review and patients seen. We are all paid a salary, so we get paid whether we see our patients or not. So, when a colleague is on vacation for 10 days and getting paid for it, I’m at the office seeing their folks. I agreed to it, so I have no one to blame but myself. It was busy. One afternoon, I saw 24 patients (when I usually see that many in a full day), and the other morning I saw 16. I got tired. And grumpy.
It’s also winter. Really? Yes, it is! I don’t remember the last time I felt the sun on my face. Which might also explain the horrific acne these days. TMI? So, while at Costco the other day, I decided to finally take some of my own advice and start taking some Vitamin D – you know, just to make sure the advice I’m doling out is actually correct.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. It is present in a few foods, can be synthesized in our skin by natural sunlight, or taken as a supplement. Vitamin D has to go through certain biochemical processes to become active and useful in our body. There is some metabolism through the liver and the rest is done through the kidney. (To read more – go here). Vitamin D is important in maintaining adequate calcium levels in our body, as well as phosphate. To put it simply, vitamin D helps make our bones stay strong. Insufficient levels of vitamin D in children can lead to rickets, and in adults to brittle bones. But vitamin D has other important functions - these include functions in cell growth and immunity, as well as reducing inflammation.
Many of my patients take vitamin D, for many different reasons. I recommend it for all the children in my practice as well as the post-menopausal women, and I usually tell the patients who are struggling with depression (especially in the winter) to also take extra vitamin D. I’m finding more and more people (men and women, alike) are taking vitamin D. Apparently it’s the go-to supplement these days. Did you know it can fight 3 different forms of cancer?? <insert eyeroll here>
In any event, I decided it was time to take some of my own advice. A few days ago I started taking 2000 IU of D3. To my genuine surprise, I was amazed at how quickly I started to feel better. Yes, likely a placebo effect, but who cares? Suddenly, after 10 days or more of darkness and bleak mood, the sunshine is back.
Oh, and did I mention that I am nearing the 10km running milestone? For a few weeks now, I have been increasing my running distance by 1km per week. Yesterday, I ran 8.2km. It felt great. I’m a little sore today, but it’s that good kind of soreness. Exercise really is nature’s best medicine. I need to remember that on the dark days.