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More sun, please!

March 22, 2011

On the heels of Sun, please!:

A mostly cloudy sky, this afternoon

Believe it or not, I actually managed to get some sun early this afternoon. The sky clouded up again, but while it was shining, it felt wonderful. 🙂 While a little sun exposure couldn’t have produced that much vitamin D, it sure did perk me up. I did manage to get enough on my back (and one side of my face) that I can tell I was in the sun, which is kind of disconcerting this time of year with some clouds; it only stayed bright for a little less than half of Raw Power. But, my skin doesn’t look like it’s ever been exposed to UV, right now.

I couldn’t help but be annoyed again that, trying to catch some rays on my own patio, I have to take some care not to flash my boobs at the neighbors. It would be really, really nice (well, other than body image issues!) just to be able to walk around without a shirt when it’s sunny, like what seems like 75% of the local male population. (Yeah, I can really understand why they rip their shirts off at the first opportunity.) And now I’m remembering when I was a kid and somebody in the neighborhood in bad need of a life called the cops on our next-door neighbor, for getting out and mowing the grass in her bra. Which did offend Mr. Interfering a lot more than it did the cops, at least. The days of spending as much of the summer as possible running around naked at my grandparents’ place in the country seem like a distant and wonderful dream.*

The verging-on-embarrassing red blotchiness actually seems to be from cholinergic urticaria instead of eczema, as I found searching for something else entirely. But:

The prevalence of the disorder is also higher in people who have other atopic conditions such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic conjunctivitisallergic rhinitis or asthma. These other atopic reactions can sometimes be triggered by the urticaria attack. There is some evidence that in at least some individuals the condition is hereditary.

Erm, yeah. It runs in my family, and the constant flushing you can keep after it’s been acting up for a while was one reason people–including medical professionals–kept assuming my mother was an alcoholic in denial. (Probably worsened not just directly by blood pressure medications, but by avoiding the sun thanks to photosensitivity from them.) I’ve been very aware of the visible blood vessels, myself. Besides just not wanting to run around with a blotchy red face, it does prickle, itch, and burn.

The side of my face, covered in red blotches with patches of visible blood vessels

Really great self-portrait, here. 😐 This is how my face is staying these days. I probably notice it more than anyone else, but still. I have noticed random nosy people staring at it.

Hopefully this will clear up again with some UV exposure; it mostly used to be a problem toward the end of winter when I was getting more sun regularly–and very rarely this much of a problem. (Same with the worst of the eczema, and keratosis pilaris, and…) Not too surprisingly, there’s reason to think that like eczema and psoriasis, vitamin D helps.

The test kit I ordered finally showed up today, from the US. Even if I weren’t avoiding the doctor, from what I was reading of other people’s experiences, it is probably much easier to get your own vitamin levels checked than to try to convince a lot of GPs under the NHS to order the bloodwork. People who turned out to be deficient were coming up with all kinds of stories (including “Help! I think I’ve ODed on supplements!”), or just adding it to lab request forms themselves. Did this surprise me? Not at all. My last GP just told me not to eat gluten rather than send me for celiac testing–or test my nutritional status from long-term malabsorption, which will cause D deficiency (among many). Good thing I didn’t actually need subsidized prescription food or to see a dietician… Giant HMOs with monopolies? Not always good. It is frankly appalling, given the known prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among White British adults, and all the health problems it can cause or contribute to. (Full paper, from 2007.)

From the first link (with added emphasis):

Other observations.
The average vitamin D levels in this study of 45 year-olds in Great Britain are lower than adult populations in the USA and Canada (Calgary). The use of vitamin supplements (13% of men, 20% of women) is about half hat in the USA (30% of men and 40% of women). The 154 non-whites of the cohort who were excluded from the study have a higher prevalence of profound vitamin D deficiency, 50% less than 10ng/ml.

The report concludes:
“It is disturbing …. that nearly 90% of the current study population was affected by hypovitaminosis D during the winter and spring, and 60% had sub-optimal concentrations year-round.”
“The high rates of hypovitaminosis D reported in this study suggest that immediate action is needed to improve the vitamin D status of the British population.”

Yeah. And that study was using lower sufficient levels than are increasingly looking optimal for long-term health (and apparently counting multivitamins as D supplementation). Britain is apparently a pretty special case, but it’s an underrecognized problem elsewhere (including among White Australians, which kinda surprised me, running across that). That’s why I’m persisting in trying to get together a fairly comprehensive post on this. People need to know this stuff. I wish I had known before I started getting the characteristic pattern of bone pain, etc.

The test kit, minus the used alcohol swab. I was concerned about getting enough blood to fill the circles, but it wasn't a problem on that blotter paper. One dubious benefit of having turned diabetic? Finger-sticking is not exactly intimidating anymore.

I’ll try to get the test kit mailed back tomorrow, and hopefully get the e-mailed link to the results within a few weeks. Numbers are good to have.

Oh, I ordered the test from D-action, with results and some basic health data being used for research purposes.  If you are considering getting tested yourself, please do not get a kit from Vitamin D Council–they are pushing a huge load of the usual dehumanizing crap about autism “epidemic” causation (hypothesis is “plausible” to whom?). I felt no urge to give them the $5 or whatever off the top. Apparently all the test kits available from various sources are the same from ZRT Labs.

It’s been a long afternoon, and I’m too tired to write more. But, indeed, the brain fog seems to be slowly improving. 🙂 Between the aches and pains and getting overloaded easily lately, I haven’t yet made it out to a tanning place. I’m still wanting to, and kind of frustrated at the delay.


* I tried it at home too, in town, but my mom kept making me put my cl0thes back on–concerned about the possibility of watching pervs. Maybe even more so after some guy grabbed me off a rather busy park playground when I was a toddler. I don’t remember it. But one of the other mothers, who was closer to him, tackled him down as he was trying to carry me off, and some random passerby wrestled me away. Mr. Pervy managed to get out from under a dogpile of people who were beating on him and limp to his running car at surprising speed, unfortunately. Still, my parents didn’t fall into Stranger Danger hysteria and restrict my movements like too many people seem to think is reasonable now.


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