When I first got diagnosed with Lyme disease two years ago, I was both thankful for answers that were long overdue but simultaneously overwhelmed. Since my tick bite occurred when I was 18 and it went undiagnosed for 16 years (that was fun) it was too late to treat with antibiotics so the supplement list I was about to undertake was LONG. I plan to write a separate post about my lyme disease journey soon, but it's a long story to tell and I am still gathering my thoughts on how to present the content.
Some of my main symptoms were extreme fatigue, crippling headaches, brain fog so bad at times I couldn't even drive. It was easy for my doctors to blame ALL of my symptoms on the lyme, but when my fatigue and headaches wouldn't let up even after month's of treating lyme I started being my own patient advocate and digging deeper. I started demanding specific lab work be done to check my thyroid levels, hormones (more to come on those later) and vitamin d levels. One thing I have learned is you HAVE to be your own advocate and speak up for what you need and if you are too sick and tired to do that then please hire someone to help you that works more in the holistic realm. I discovered that my vitamin d levels were TANKED and no doctor had bothered to mention it. Thanks guys.
Vitamin D- The Sunshine Vitamin
We all know we should unplug and get outside more often, but most of us don't realize how healing it can actually be to get some sunshine. By exposing our skin to the sun's ultraviolet B rays we get a boost of vitamin D. The amount of vitamin D received will depend on the time of day, where you live on the globe and the color of your skin. For example, a fair skinned individual might only need 10-15 mins but a darker skinned individual may need much longer. You do NOT need to tan or burn to receive vitamin D. You obtain the most vitamin D when you expose a large area such as your back, vs. your face/arms. Even though I walk for 30 mins to an hour almost every single day, it still wasn't enough for me to get the vitamin D I needed (probably because I wasn't walking shirtless). And let me tell you, I was bone crushingly tired almost all day everyday. My vitamin d numbers were in the 30's and from my research one feels their best if it is over 70 and my body definitely confirms that. So I started supplementing with this vitamin d. Because my numbers were so low I started out taking (and still do) 10 IU a day, most people will only need 5 IU. I am going to experiment backing off to 5 IU and recheck my levels in a few months...stay tuned. I have tried getting off vitamin D, just because it's annoying to remember to take it all the time, but every time I get off my numbers tank and I feel awful. That's why I am a lifer when it comes to vitamin D.
One thing I lOVE about taking my health in my hands and being my own advocate is seeing documented results. Before supplementing, my numbers were extremely low but after three months of taking 10,000 IU a day (which is only two pills of the brand I take) my numbers and energy are WAY better. Obviously, I am not a doctor so work with a really good holistic/functional doctor that will help you figure out your dosage and rule out other reasons for fatigue such as adrenal fatigue, hormones, thyroid issues, etc.. Most traditional doctors will prescribe vitamin D2 but in my research, vitamin D3 which is over the counter is much more effective. This article explains why. It's also important for me to have a vitamin that is not packed with fillers which is why I like the above brand since I take this supplement everyday. I also require my vitamin D3 to have K2 added as well, here's the really important reason why. My 2.5 year old takes this liquid vitamin D3 with K2- I give her a couple drops a day in her elderberry shot. I am not affiliated or paid by either of these brands.
My actual test results- three months apart:
Some (but not all) symptoms of low vitamin D are summed up well in this article. Headaches, dental issues and fatigue were my main symptoms, but others can have a wide range of issues as highlighted below. It's worth a quick blood test to see where your numbers fall.
photo cred: womenfitness.net
The second supplement I will take for life...
Magnesium has been dubbed the "master mineral" for so many valid reasons. Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body such as regulating heartbeat rhythms and neurotransmitter functioning- making this one of the most crucial minerals for optimal health. Vitamin D and magnesium work together as well. All of the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D appear to require magnesium, which acts as a co-factor in the enzymatic reactions in the liver and kidneys. You can be taking sufficient vitamin D but if you are magnesium deficient you may not be able to increase your blood levels.
A lack of magnesium in the body can effect us negatively in many ways: heart issues, anxiety, depression, insomnia, RLS and more. According to the The US National Academy of Science’s Food & Nutrition Board, 75% of Americans may be deficient in magnesium, and "the average American 14 or older is magnesium deficient." I began my magnesium journey when I started having some heart palpitations and sleep issues. At the time I was using magnesium gel, which works, but it stings and is sticky. So I created my magnesium body butter, I made it super strong so I wouldn't have to use much and it would last a long time...bonus- it doesn't sting (unless applied directly to an open wound). I apply a fingertip amount to the soles of my feet at bedtime and the result has been deeper and more restful sleep. My heart palpitations are almost non existent these days. I apply a tiny dab to the bottom of my 2.5 year olds feet a few times a week for overall health.
There are magnesium pills you can take- but honestly trying to decide which one (oxide, chloride, sulfate, taurate, glycinate) to take was a little overwhelming and a whole lot of contradicting information exists out there on ye old google. I personally believe that trans-dermal (applied to skin) offers the best absorption rate and your body knows what to do with it. Our bodies were created to heal and our skin is our largest organ absorbing everything we slather on it within 60 seconds. Impressive.
There are also some foods you can eat to supply you with some magnesium (my fave being dark chocolate), but you will most likely still need to supplement in some form. According to the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, healthy adult men should generally consume 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium daily. To give some perspective to those numbers: ¼ cup almonds is around 100mg magnesium, a medium banana contains around 33mg magnesium and 1/2 cup broccoli contains around 51mg magnesium.
So....now ya know which two supplements will always be on my bedside nightstand. Of course, there are many other supplements I take on a daily basis but they may not be for life, or I may rotate them and that is why I will chat about them in a separate post. Even my beloved elderberry & honey tonic which has brought much healing to me on my journey, I rotate and don't take it daily in the summer months (Sep-May-ish we take it every single day).
Cheers to greater sleep, improved energy/mood and overall health!