Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Bottle of Sunshine Changed My Life

For about the past nine months I’ve been battling something I can only describe as extreme and intense fatigue. Initially, I figured I wasn’t getting enough sleep thanks to the wonders known as law school, but my sleep levels often failed to correlate with how I felt. In particular, I would get extreme fatigue during certain times of the day – typically during the early afternoon, irrespective of how much sleep I managed to get the night before. At the time I chocked it up to Property being an especially boring class to me, hence the extra-noticeable fatigue I felt during that class. This did not, however, explain why I felt like crap on those days in which I didn’t even have a class.

Because my fatigue seemed to kick in on a clockwork-like basis, I began to wonder if I might have something physically wrong with me. Mild depression seemed like a plausible explanation as I tend to be regarded as a rather “moody” person given to bouts of extreme exuberance to annoying brooding darkness to appearances of extreme exhaustion. I tried various remedies to smooth out this aspect of my emotional body, ranging from supplements to nicotine to regular work out routines. While these things certainly helped, I still couldn’t shake the rain clouds thundering in my head.

I began Googling for a solution. The first thing that came to mind was CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Severe illness, flu, stress, or combinations of those elements have often been attributed to the onset of CFS. Although I had indeed been seriously ill a few years ago, my recovery had also been relatively uneventful and therefore I ruled out extreme illness as an element of causation.

I started researching the topic of CFS I came across something very interesting – a man who had battled CFS for years for which he had no explanation for its root cause. He had been prescribed anti-depressants, changed his diet, exercised more and overall his story sounded a lot like mine. However, one thing stood out…

He used to live in California (like me), and in fact lived near the beach (like me) and tended to get a decent share of sunshine and good weather (like me). He became increasingly fatigued and ill when he moved to the upper Midwest (like me), but as the years went by he never connected all the dots (at least not until several years later). He saw doctors, psychologists, tried antidepressants, changed his diet, but alas these things only helped in a very limited way. So what did he do?

He began taking Vitamin D. Initially, it was a disaster as the Vitamin D he was taking was based on fish-oil and this made him pretty sick due to his being allergic to shellfish. He then switched to a non fish-oil based Vitamin D and lo and behold his CFS began to make a radical improvement. His theory was that his body had been getting the doses of Vitamin D it needed through his California lifestyle. Moving to the ugly, gray, horrible Upper-Midwest combined with his being confined in an office most of the day led him to try supplementing his diet with big doses of Vitamin D i.e. a bottle of much needed sunshine.

I decided to give it a try. I started out with 400 IU’s of Twinlab Allergy Vitamin D supplements and worked my way up to taking two (2) 400 unit capsules on a daily basis. The results in my case have proven to be nearly instantaneous. Within two days I felt completely different. My clockwork fatigue evaporated. The clouds in my head began to give way to sunshine. My thinking became sharper and the mild daily headaches a thing of the past.

Because I doubted the simplicity of merely upping my intake of Vitamin D as a cure-all to my fatigue, I decided to give it a few more weeks just to be certain. It has turned out to be THE answer to my fatigue, which also tells me that I didn’t have actual CFS, but was merely deficient in Vitamin D. Looking back it all makes perfect sense. I went from having a lot of sunshine (Arizona, California) to very little sunshine (Wisconsin / Michigan living).

So… if any of you are transplants to this miserable God damn awful place known as the Midwest and can’t seem to shake the blues – try supplementing your diet with Vitamin D. You just might need a bottle of sunshine to replace the sunshine you used to get from living in a place that didn’t suck.


At Wednesday, January 19, 2005 8:45:00 AM, Blogger mquest said...

I live in sunny Southern California so I know no one that has been affected by the lack of sun vitamin D like you but, I have a few thoughts. A few years ago a winter disorder called SAD (Seasonal Affliction(?) Disorder) was big in the news. And there was a big run on some type of special lighting system that people were supposed to sit in front of for a few minuets each day. They say it works wonders. It might be a good supplement for the lack of sun.


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