Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vitamin D Anyone?

I would have no problems living in Perth, if our weather never got hotter than it is today.  It is a beautiful (and comfortable) 27 degrees celsius.  I wouldn't mind one little bit, if the weather alternated between raining and cold and a balmy 28 degrees - definitely no hotter than 30 degrees ever.

I went out to collect the mail and noted how wonderful the day was looking  (It helped that I walked past my freshly opened amazing sunflowers... they're all golden, sparkly and cheery).  The lovely sun, reminded me of my last doctors appointment and the horrible scare I had.  I received a letter in the post from my doctors nurse saying that the doctor needed to see me about my test results.  My immediate thought was to my pap smear that I had a few weeks before.  My heart sank... nobody wants anything wrong or abnormal going on down there.  I mentioned it to my husband, dwelled on it for a day.... then remembered - thank God, I had given blood for my latest blood test after my last neurologist appointment.  So then the question became, the results for which test.

So I called my doctors office the following morning and made my appointment.  At the end of the conversation I threw in... the appointment is for test results.  I recently had a blood tests and a pap smear.  Could you tell me which one I'm going to be discussing with the doctor, so I don't have to worry that it going to be about the pap all weekend.  Normally the receptionist, and probably rightly so, says no to anything that sounds like special request. Instead I got put through to the nurse.  I gave her my spiel and put emphasis about worrying it might be the pap smear over the entire weekend.  She obligingly looked up my results and said, the results were for the blood tests.... phew-wee!

So the weekend passed uneventfully and I make it into the doctors surgery.  My GP is the one who first suspected MS, and he knows me well enough to give me a friendly peck on the cheek and quick hug for Christmas.  So we sit down... and he says, your vitamin D is low.  I say, you are kidding me - it's the middle of summer and I take 2000 IU of vitamin D a day - where is all this vitamin D going?

It's crazy that I live in Australia, it's the middle of summer and I'm still low - but not deficient, in D.  In my mind there is no way vitamin D and MS are not related in someway.  Then add on the fact that I am supplementing with Vitamin D daily... it's nuts - I should be way over the limits for vitamin D.

What's the solution?  More vitamin D supplements - 4000 IU... 4 capsules a day.  It's really hard to get a vitamin D brand in Australia that does IU greater than 1000.  My GP remembers that another patient of his with MS uses a brand from o/s.  So he calls her... and strangely enough, she is sitting in the waiting room waiting to see him.  I would have loved to have met her... but that's not protocol apparently.  I gather from the conversation that she offers me some of her 4000 IU D's, but my GP indicates, although generous, that it won't be needed.  She couldn't remember the brand and she will call him back and he will call me.  Obviously when I leave the room and wander back into the waiting room, which is shared by 6 doctors at the practice, I scourer it for the mystery MS lady. But there was no way of telling who it was...

Anyway, when I was in with my GP he handed me a sheet that told me how long I needed to spend in the sun during summer with my hands, face and arms bare to make approximately 1000 IU of vitamin D.  I have to tell you... I would be hard pressed to do that in 36 degree heat, but since today was lovely and mild, and my sunflowers smiled at me I reinspected the sheet.  It said I needed to spend 5-6 minutes in the sun.  So I grabbed a book, took off my t.shirt and basked in the sun.  How pleasant!  I didn't feel like I burning straight away and I didn't feel like I was in a sauna until right at the end... in fact I'm surprised how quickly 6 minutes goes when you are enjoying yourself. 

In winter, however if I wanted to go outside and make up 1000 IU's of D I would have to bare myself for 20-28 minutes!  I doubt I would be sitting on the lawn sunning myself... I'd have to be doing something, like weeding... and that not exactly something I want to do every day!

It's long been known that MS has a particular geography. Thanks for this bit of useful info...

MS is predominately a disease of temperate latitudes and of the western hemisphere. Principally, it is a disease prevalent in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Although MS is found in Japan, China and some other temperate, eastern countries, it is very much rarer than it is in the West. Regions north of 40 degrees latitude have a markedly higher incidence than those south of this divide. Within Europe, Scandinavia, The British Isles, the Low Countries and Germany have very high rates. Canada, northern USA and New Zealand have an equivalently high prevalence. Within these areas, certain localities such as the border areas of Scotland (203 per 100,000), Crowsnest Pass in Alberta, Canada (217 per 100,000), the northern-most province of Sweden (253 per 100,000) and others have been found to have extremely high incidences of the disease. 

I'm pretty sure that those in the know about MS are now discovering that MS is more common in China and Japan than first thought.  They just call it something else... I'm sure my neurologist mentioned in Japan it's called Devics.

This link is to a map showing the world distributution of MS:

Anyways my daily injections are going fine - thanks for asking.  All Mr C's usual, lovely side effects are present... no more no less, thus I have nothing to complain about, but plenty to be grateful for.

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