Two years ago, I visited my doctor after weeks of feeling achy and exhausted. I am a stay-at-home mother of two, and was caring for my mother during treatment for cancer at the time. With weekly trips for chemotherapy and then daily trips for radiation for an entire month, I barely had time to run my household and take care of my family. Like most mothers, I certainly didn’t have time to take care of myself. Trying to keep up with two children, doctor appointments, errands, grocery shopping, extra-curricular activities, and caring for my very-ill mother was wearing me down. I was so tired in the afternoon that I would lie in bed for a few minutes of rest, which was unusual for the on-the-go person that I am. When I got to the point where I literally could not make it through the day without resting, I realized that this was not normal for a person in their early 40’s. When I went to sleep at night, every joint in my body ached, from head to toe. My elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and even my hands ached so badly that I couldn’t fall asleep without taking an anti-inflammatory medication. Finally, after becoming concerned that I was taking medication too often, I made a trip to the doctor. She did a complete battery of blood tests, to determine the reason for my fatigue. Because I had such severe exhaustion, she even tested my blood for mononucleosis and lupus.
A few days later, my blood test results showed that my levels of vitamin D and B-12 were far below normal. My doctor prescribed a mega-dose of 10,000 IU vitamin D, (which is available over-the-counter, but must be requested from the pharmacy). She also prescribed a mega-dose of 10,000 mcg B-12, which can be purchased in the form of sublingual (placed under the tongue) tablets. After two weeks of taking the vitamin supplements, I felt 100% better. Now I visit my doctor every six months for blood tests, to check my levels and to adjust my dosages.
This experience made me realize that I needed to change my eating habits to include more fruits and vegetables, in an attempt to get all the vitamins and minerals I need in a natural form. I began to exercise at the local gym, by lifting weights and walking on the treadmill. I changed my eating habits from eating easy-to-prepare, preservative-filled, processed foods to eating more natural, what I call “God-given foods” (fruits, vegetables, dairy, and low-fat meats, in addition to whole-grain breads). I also take many supplements, including a multi-vitamin, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, glucosamine, and Omega 3 / fish oil. I walk two miles a day, several days a week, and have lost 17 pounds in 9 months. My joints don’t ache anymore and I have more energy and feel more youthful. I can now enjoy walking in our neighborhood and hiking in the mountains with my children, without feeling pain afterward.
Because many of us have indoor jobs and stay so busy with our families, we don’t get outdoors where we can get the direct sunshine that helps our bodies create Vitamin D. I now assure that I get a few minutes of sun daily, without sunscreen; (but still apply sunscreen if I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period of time).
Visit Your Doctor
Of course, everyone should see their doctor before taking a mega-dose of any supplement; but if you have symptoms of achiness and fatigue, ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels. My only regret is that I didn’t visit my doctor sooner. As mothers, we often neglect our own well-being; but in hindsight, it cost very little time out of my life to determine my problem. If you are often fatigued and/or achy, a simple blood test could be all that is needed to help you feel better and get back to a normal, and even energetic, life. The additional energy might also enable you to exercise more and motivate you to eat healthier foods, for an all-around healthier lifestyle.