osteomalacia and hypertension

Has anyone ever heard of osteomalacia before? Turns out I have it, although before discovering this term, all I was aware of was the severe Vitamin D deficiency my doctor said my blood-work revealed last year. This whole experience reminds me of when I learned that I had menorrhagia for most of my adult life without knowing the medical term for it.

For the past year or so my doctor has been trying to get my Vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure under control. Thursday evening I happened to hear Dr. Michael F. Holick on the radio discussing his book, The Vitamin D Solution. When he mentioned musculoskeletal pain and muscle weakness, and even hypertension and a few other problems, being due to a lack of Vitamin D, I picked up my new best friend, my Kindle, and had the book in my hands electronically within moments. I spent the better part of yesterday reading the eye-opening information and finished it up this morning.

I think I now know how this happened!

In 2004 I had a basal cell carcinoma surgically removed from my forehead and on the advice of my dermatologist became totally paranoid about receiving any exposure to the sun from then on. Turns out this was ill-advised as I am now depleted of Vitamin D, in spite of supplements.

Just as we need a little fat and salt in our diet, we also need a little sun.
~ Michael F. Holick
(The Vitamin D Solution)

collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble
collared lizard by Lawrence Gamble

Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? It’s a hormone!!! And every cell in our bodies has a Vitamin D receptor? Hormones are “regulatory substances produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.” The skin is the organ that uses sunlight to produce the Vitamin D hormone that performs wonders throughout our bodies. Cats and lizards don’t need scientists to tell them they need the sun!

For my skin type, fifteen minutes of direct sunlight a day on half my body around noon from May to October should be sufficient to turn things around for me, and also to store enough Vitamin D to carry me through most of the winter. Will be taking additional supplements, year-round, too, and eating wild-caught salmon (farm-raised salmon have almost no Vitamin D because they are fed pellets of grain instead of their natural diet from the ocean food chain) and plenty of sardines, too, which I happen to love, thank goodness. And mushrooms, the only source of natural Vitamin D in the produce aisles of the grocery store.

Fifteen minutes! Sunlight! A wonder “drug” for free! Of course today it is pouring rain, so I’m chafing at the bit, but I’m getting out there first chance I get…

"Sunflowers in a Blue Vase" by Christian Rohlfs
“Sunflowers in a Blue Vase” by Christian Rohlfs

37 thoughts on “osteomalacia and hypertension”

  1. yes, Yes, YES! Amen SiSTAR!

    As a Holistic Health Practitioner I am in complete and total agreement with everything you said here.

    I shout this from my rooftop every day (that’s a slight exaggeration). Thank you for sharing this important information with your readers. I hope you’ll Tweet it and Facebook it as well.

    1. I can see why you’d be shouting this from the rooftops, Laurie – it’s exactly what I feel like doing! I’m not on Twitter, but I put the link on Facebook as you suggested. πŸ™‚ The information in Dr. Holick’s book has blown me away… As if all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fit!

  2. Oh, that is wonderful information. I love the feeling of the sun on my skin, and now I know that I need just a little every day. Now I can justify warming myself in the sun a bit.
    Thank you! I hope you get a sunny day soon!

    1. You’re welcome! πŸ™‚ There have been so many things going wrong with my body the past few years and now it all finally makes sense! I used to feel so good spending my days at the beach in the summer when the kids were small. Now I understand why! I’d get a slight tan and then add the sunblock, so I was doing what was best without realizing it. I hope you will enjoy your sunbaths without guilt now! πŸ™‚

  3. What uplifting news Barbara!

    Now, my question is, will you take your “medicine” with SPF or straight up?

    How serendipitous that you caught this story on the radio! Or perhaps it was fate. But I’m very glad for you (and the rest of us humans, too) either way!

    1. Uplifting, indeed, Janet!
      Straight up for fifteen minutes and then I can cover up or go inside or add sunblock. It was a bit of synchronicity to catch Dr. Holick on the radio – he kept mentioning all the various things I’ve been struggling with the past few years and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I’ve never read a book so fast, either. Weight gain, which you know I’ve also been struggling with, is another indication of Vitamin D deficiency. The list goes on…

  4. Hi Barbara, this has got me thinking too. It’s funny, how paranoid we (meaning me)) become about our beautiful, life giving sun! And yes, I know there is very good reason to not overdo it but this has given me much to think about. By the time I’ve slathered sun block (another story in itself) on ALL areas of exposed skin, put on a hat, sunglasses, covered my arms and so on, too much precious walk-time is already gone. Plus I often feel slightly sticky and vaguely uncomfortable before one step is taken. But it’s the sense/feeling that the sun is something to be avoided, an enemy of sorts, that has me thinking. Hmmm…

    I’m looking forward to hearing how this all unfolds with you and will be reading Dr. Horlick’s book. Bravo!

    1. Colleen, it seems that balance, once again, is important. I don’t care for the sticky feel of sunblock, either. My favorite time to take a walk is early in the morning or a little before and after sunset, so then I don’t usually bother with sunblock. But one can’t soak up those Vitamin D producing rays at those times! I probably should mention that Dr. Horlick says to protect your face with a hat and sunglasses when getting your dose of sun. There is so much more information in the book – I’ve only scratched the surface in my post – so I’m happy you’ll be reading the book! πŸ™‚

  5. My dad has been advocating taking Vitamin D for a couple of years now. It seems like those of us in northern climates really must take heed of our precious sunlight. I am beginning to think that almost everything on earth has a positive side and a negative side. So good that you have learned this, know what to do to help heal, and are sharing it with all of us. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Kathy, and your dad is right on track. The farther north (or south in the southern hemisphere) we live the more of a problem we have getting as much Vitamin D as we need. And the farther north a population lives, the higher the rates of diseases that are now being linked to Vitamin D deficiency. That’s another subject Dr. Horlick covers extensively in his book. Waiting to see if it will stop raining today for my first dose!

      1. Barbara & Kathy – I get some (not much) Vitamin D in the excellent multi-vitamin/mineral that I take, but I take an additional Vitamin D3 Supplement (actually, I take several vitamin and mineral supplements in addition to my multi).

        1. I’ve been reading labels to see what I’m already getting and like you, Laurie, have started both of us on an additional vitamin d3 supplement. Just ordered two tank tops to wear for my daily sunshine dose on the balcony!

  6. I’m in the midst of proofreading a book (text book for med students) and guess what I was reading about today? Vitamin D! πŸ™‚

    I read a book by Dr. Weil years ago advocating the same thing and have made sure to get outside for 15 minutes a day (without sunscreen) to get my Vitamin D. It has helped a lot. So, too, the salmon and a good fish oil supplement when I can’t get good salmon.

    Enjoy your sun and your healing. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Robin! Are you a professional proofreader?

      Dr. Weil wrote the forward to this book! It’s nice to know you’ve been doing this and that it has helped – thanks for the encouragement! Apparently one needs enough Vitamin D in her system to effectively absorb Vitamin D from supplements or food. So getting some from the sun will be the first step in getting the system up and running again! πŸ™‚

      1. Good morning & Happy Easter, Barbara!

        I’m not really a professional proofreader (although I am getting paid for it). This is a personal favor of sorts. I’m surprised by how tiring it is (especially to my eyes).

        Now all we need is for the sun to come out so we can work on that Vitamin D. Still raining here in Ohio.

        1. Happy Easter, Robin!

          I’ve always thought that proofreading or editing would be great jobs for me. One of my favorite parts of motherhood was proofreading my kids’ papers, even after they were in college. None of them have written a book however, so maybe that would tire my eyes, too!

          Still foggy and misty here in Connecticut, even though it’s almost noon. Oh well, its bound to clear up eventually!

  7. This is really interesting. I had no idea that keeping out of the sun would cause such severe Vit D deficiency.

    I love the sun. I don’t sit outside to become sunburned, but I guess to soak up the Vit D that my body craves. I guess that’s why if I’m feeling blah, all I need to do is go sit outside in the sun and just feeling the sun’s rays on me lifts my spirits.

    Thanks for sharing the story. I hope you get some sun shine tomorrow πŸ™‚

    1. Welcome, Rosie! Sitting in the sun lifts my spirits, too. I can’t believe I’ve denied myself the pleasure for so many years. The dermatologist is always so pleased with my compliance to her instructions when I see her every year. I wonder what she’ll have to say when I tell her why I have a little tan when I see her in September! πŸ™‚

  8. Barbara,

    I am glad you have heard the message and have taken it too heart. ! Good for you!
    Sun is a glorious thing, as all things in moderation. Even if it is just daily walks to catch a few rays….

    1. Thanks, Jeff! πŸ™‚ That’s one of the nice things about walking in the woods, we get a little sun here and there and enough shade to keep us from overdosing on it! Trees are wonderful friends…

  9. Yep, Barbara, being a mite older than you, I have heard of it, and knew the relationship with “vitamin” D, etc. But I am definitely up for learning more, and even did learn more from your blog and comments.
    The lift of mood from sunlight is not “psychological” it is physical. The pineal gland actually registers the light coming through the eyes and skull. We need an hour a day of daylight (not necessarily direct sunlight) in our eyes (no glasses of any kind) for optimal health, I’ve heard, and half an hour just for survival. Who ever gets that consistently, these days? It’s another side-benefit of walking outdoors for exercise!!!
    Anyway, on your recommendation, I am going to get and study the book. I do a lot of health-related counseling, as a minister, and I love learning about it!

    1. Yikes! Sorry to be so late getting back to the comments on this post! OM, I hope you find the book as wonderful and helpful as I did! I think my bones are starting to ache a little less now that I’ve been starting to fill my “tank” with Vitamin D from various sources, including my new (old) friend, the sun! πŸ™‚

  10. Thank goodness you found out. Knowledge is power.
    There was a recent news story in the UK about British children whose parents had become paranoid about the risks of skin cancer from too much sun exposure, having become deprived of Vitamin D. As you say – every in moderation.
    (Does that include moderation itself?)

    1. πŸ™‚ Moderation is such a subjective term, isn’t it? I appreciate how Dr. Holick teaches his readers how to figure out how much sun is needed for different skin types. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison…

  11. I get very little sun and these days I’m light sensitive so it really hurts being out in it for any length of time. However, I have a lot (far too much) of dairy foods – milk, cheese, butter – and they contain vitamin D. (And A). I take supplements sometimes.

    Be careful of two things, Barbara. One is that it’s possible to overdose on vitamin D, the other is that at noon, the sun is at its strongest… maybe get sunshine from later in the afternoon onwards?

    1. The problem with getting sun later in the afternoon (in my latitude) is that here I wouldn’t get the rays needed for my skin to make the Vitamin D. (That’s also why even the noon sun in the winter does not have the rays needed.) It may be that you would need even less time in the direct sunlight than I do. Dr. Holick explains how to adjust timing for skin type and latitude and time of year. Fifteen minutes is not giving me a burn, so far. The good doctor states that overdosing on vitamin D is very rare and extremely unlikely – he gives all the statistics in the book. The dairy products are probably doing well for you. Being allergic to dairy products I’m not able to get vitamin D in that way. πŸ™

  12. Every time I am hanging my washing out on the clothes lines I always think about how I am topping up my Vitamin D. I suggest no sun between 10 and 3 or at least 2pm when the rays are at their highest though. That is when we Australians are told to slip, slop, slap – slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat!

    1. I wonder what Dr. Holick’s recommendations would be for your latitude? I used to hang laundry out on the line a couple of times a week, and I used to take the kids to the beach summer mornings, when they had swimming lessons, and late afternoons when they didn’t. We used sunscreen if we happened to be there between 10 and 3. Having a picnic supper on the beach was always a wonderful time of day. I was a lot healthier in those days!

  13. Barbara, in your readings did you come across the differences in different forms of Vitamin D? My dad says it needs to be Vitamin D3 for it to make a huge difference.

    1. Dr. Holick mentioned that in his research he found that both D2 and D3 worked the same way in the body. But the only one I find in the store is D3 so I guess I’m getting the best one according to what your dad has found. πŸ™‚ The bigger problem is that you need Vitamin D in your system to enable your digestive cells to absorb the Vitamin D you ingest orally effectively, which is why the sunlight is so crucial!

      1. Wow, that is complex for sure, Barbara, about needing some to absorb some!
        BTW my body wanted around 15,000 units of D3 daily for months, and my nurse practitioner who specializes in women’s health said this amount is not at all uncommon among her patients, as their bodies’ choice, too.
        Then my body went off D for a long time, even all this winter, despite my chronic sunlight deprivation, and now it wants 15K a day again!!!! Doesn’t make sense, but I have to respect its wishes!!!

        1. P.S. Fortunately I get the Blue Bonnet brand and the 5K strength, so that’s only 3 capsules, LOL!!!!

        2. Also, Dr. Holick said the Vitamin D your skin makes stays in your body twice as long. I’m learning that there is no way to summarize everything in that book on a blog post!

          Wow – 15,000 a day! How did you know that was the amount your body needed, OM? We used to get 400 a day in supplements, but now we’re taking 2,000 in the morning and 2,000 in the evening – wondering if that’s enough. But we’re also getting our sun (though it is raining again today), eating more mushrooms, sardines and wild-caught salmon, and have switched to orange juice fortified with vitamin D and calcium.

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