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Vitamin D Deficiency

Started by rn2006 on 06/22/2011 2:56pm

Recently found out that my vitamin D level is severely deficient. My level was 12.1 (normal is 30-100).

My symptoms basically mirrored signs and symptoms of rickets; Very severe and new unexplained muscle weakness, severe fatigue, increased depression, etc. This simple blood test was ordered by my pain management practitioner. She said that because my Vitamin D level was so deficient, my calcium would be leached from my bones at a significant rate. I definitely don't need that. My history includes a 4 level cervical fusion and 1 level lumber fusion by the age of 41.

Thought I would share this, because I am hoping others could benefit from this information. I am a registered nurse and I never thought of having my vitamin D level checked until my practitioner recommended it.

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3 Responses


Hi there! I also discovered that my Vitamin D levels were very low just because I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and to treat it, I use Humira so I have to get routine labs every 6 to 8 weeks and my Reumy was the one who discovered. Since then she ordered me to take a 10 week 50,000iu of Vitamin D and will check my levels again as soon as I get to finish with the treatment. Back when I first started to take the pills (and my levels were extrmly low) I had the same symptoms that you mention. The last time that I had my follow up visit with her she explained that this vitamin has to be in an optimal level in your body so you can absorb the proper calcium for your bone beside all the other symptoms that you can have when the levels are low, like the depression and muscle weakness! This week I'm taking my last pill and will get my lab work done so wish me luck! Hope you get better too!
PS: I also heard that getting some sun light will give you some good shots of natural Vitamin D but that will be good for somebody that has no problems with extrmly low levels!)


I just want to add to this post; the range of 30-100 is an older number and practitioners have determined that is still bordering on too low; for anyone with spinal diagnoses or previous operations on discs or vertebral fusions, along with any autoimmune conditions or prior fractures (anywhere, as those are VERY prone to osteopenia and later osteoporosis), the recommended level is 60-100, and on nearly all biologics (ie Humira, Enbrel, Simponi, Cimzia, Orencia, Remicade, etc), methotrexate/other DMards, and many others that can contribute to hypocalcemia, hovering around 80 is often advised. Even healthy bodies are best-protected with D levels at 60... as we are so variable in how efficient our sources and our utilization of Vit D are, the best indication is calcium level as monitored every 12 weeks for at-risk patients and, for healthy patients, every 6 months and anytime symptoms warrant it--fatigue often being the only present, noticable symptom. (Many of us are excellent at tolerating abnormal levels of pain in our fast paced society--we often only notice aching muscles when we are totally still, and that is "all too often not often enough.")

Another critical set of blood markers related to (sometimes present before a low D count) are albumin and pre-albumin levels; endocrinologists are often recommended (though truly excellent ones are less easily located than unicorns!) for ALL patients with autoimmune disorders, who take any hormone-altering treatments, who have ever had low calcium/iron/related levels, and more; they are the real wizards of lab tests and can determine when a RATIO is wrong, can decipher tests that other MDs say "I dunno??" to, and are able to evaluate and link estrogen/testosterone/cortisol, and other vital components of blood to all manner of fatigue/lethargy, weakness, dizziness/vertigo/other unexpected neurological symptoms, general pain, many digestive symptoms like diahhrea, and more.

One last clinical visit mention: if calcium levels are low or borderline but D intake appears sufficient, before jumping above 60, it is important--and again, good endocrinologists are worth their weight in gold as they tend to be the real experts here--to check KIDNEY FUNCTION with a 24hour refrigerated urine catch (many properties of urine, even sealed, alter drastically when kept at room temp or warmer beyond the initial catch-couple hours later). It obviously requires a day at home, and the time is "24 hours after the first, wasted output." It is vital to NOT increase calcium intake/absorption if in fact it is low in the blood because it is going to the kidneys, not unlike how you wouldn't simply do iron infusions without being sure blood isn't in the bowels. It is, in amy case, extremely helpful to get--when cortisol, sex hormones(aldosterone/progesterone/testosterone/estrogen)--can be altered by meds, LIKEWISE when bones are at risk, to get an endocrine specialist on board. Rheumatologists have SOME training in the general bone density matters, but they cannot usually evaluate and rarely even think to do the tests that are more subtle, less "gross/crude" (meaning the less nuanced, more finely detailed and more complex--we use the words gross/crude/dirty in peculiar ways).

As for sources of D, I'll give a little pharm tip: the 50k unit pills--little green powerhouses!--that are Rx D3 are, in fact, over twice as potent as taking the same dose in OTC versions (often 5-8xs, OTC manufacturer dependent!)... In other words, beyond them being "50" 1k pills in hypothetical dose, that one little supercapsule will be anywhere from as effective at raising levels as anywhere from 100-800 of the 1k pills many take daily (holds true for higher doses as well). Because it is FAT SOLUBLE, you MUST get it rechecked a minimum of every 3 months once you discover your diet isn't enough... Apart from folate, essentially all vitamins are--D included--poorly absorbed and some, like C--are HARMFUL (leeching iron from muscle tissue where it is needed into the bloodstream, emergen-C and regular or high dose consumption of it in any form but whole foods where it is bound to fibers/proteins/sugar strands, has been linked to heart attacks in young "healthy" people)... The Rx version is strictly produced and stored and is simply the highest quality, so get REchecked and if you need to take, for instance, 2500/day, just take the 50k unit every 20 and it will store until you need it to absorb calcium you should get from milk if possible (lactaid works, too, but NOT soy/other milk substitutes; spinach and the like unfortunately have compounds that interfere with their calcium content and rende rit useless, and NOTHING "fortified" is particularly great; some things like orange juice--which may as well be called insulin attack and fat factory--have forms of calcium (calcium carbonate aka what 90% of supplements use because it is dirt cheap :( ...) that IMPEDE digestion of everything, their calcium included. Another way to get calcium, how we did apart from milk to evolve into such strong creatures--that and EXERCISE being THE bone builder, which is essential no matter how much you intake--is chewing and consuming the somewhat icky bones of fish ie canned salmon. The my pyramid tracker (a government site) is, while imperfect by far, a really excellent tool to get an idea of what you lack, sources not always reliable. Vitamins=a megaprofitable way, second only to home improvement "lawnscape" departments, to have us pay insane prices for rocks--ground up shells and stone and even pipes to get the copper... We can't just grind plumbing and quarries and make a meal of them, but all the nutrition shakes/powders/pills sure want us to. Our current generation of elders bought that lie and have more (and more severe) fractures than any generation prior. Breads only fortify because they strip--to sell separately--the valuable bran and germ in wheat for example, leaving behind a starchy, nutrient-void endosperm that is easily fluffed but empty calories... Only 1 bread I have ever seen (Dave's Killer Bread) leaves things intact; a slice SHOULD have 4-6 grams fiber (NONE ADDED LATER), 4 for nutty breads, 6 for just-grains. "enriched flour" means it is NOT whole. Critical stuff people are literally told blatant lies about, and the FDA (whole great about PRESCRIPTIONS overall) stink at OTC and food claims and quality assurance. All that rambling from a D&calcium post... Figured I would mention some brief-but-still-wordy tidbits of info to chew on (mine is sugar-free, for sure; it is healthy fat to chew, fat NOT being the devil we make it to be!)

Excuse any broken sentences or unfinished thoughts in this--my mobile is hard to edit on--it has a weird inability on some fairly traditionally coded sites to actually stay if I scroll up--it will let me type but blindly... So I keep things in original draft form out of necessity. It also has horrid auto-complete, but this Apple wonder is the work one, not my awesome personal Nokia, so I am a bit stuck dealing with the megacrashing Safari when I post waiting on-call to be told where I am needed.

Thank both your body for telling you something is wrong and your awareness for not shrugging it off. We are terrible listeners in that respect, and I may be the worst as far as "knowing better&still not addressing it quickly." Our bodies warn us for weeks and months and we take headaches and lethargy as part of the work game. I only have less guilt in burdening my body from always thinkng in what-is-wrong-in-this-body and how-to-fix/optimize-it terms;even though I am still slow to get checked out--not as slow as many but often not as soon as I get a hint I need something, D included!, I wouldn't be as contemplative if my education hadn't immersed me and my job didn't keep me swimming in a deep pool of tests and patients [and I am not an endocrinologist which is exactly why I know just how good they are at stuff I am freshman-quality for ie "you don't want me evaluating that, because I might not see the warnings or order the right mix of obscure tests to diagnose it properly").


Thank you for this invaluable information. How much vitamin d should someone take on average?