Archive for the ‘Vitamin D testing’ Category

When Asked, Do Your Research!

???????????????????????????????It is a gorgeous late summer day in Minnesota, one of a handful we get each year, but last night was a harbinger of colder days to come. I awoke to frost and, of course, the end to the fragile vegetables that grow in my garden.

I had plenty of warning of this impending rime of ice, so yesterday, with some reluctance I picked every tomato, ripe or not. Every pepper was plucked and the yellow summer squash was gently removed from the vines that would soon be dead. With a lot of reluctance I left my garden a mere shadow of its summer self.

I am always sad to see the seasons change and my once burgeoning garden die but, just like we humans must change, the seasons must morph from summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring and back to summer again. It’s the cycle of life.

 

Iodine or not?

Speaking of change helps me segue to my next topic. I had an interesting experience this week that has caused me to change my mind. I was asked to be a moderator on a thyroid group, to try to help people who have this perplexing disease. That is what Krisinsight is all about, so at first I jumped at the chance to help even more people but then turned it down.

Why you ask have I turned down this opportunity? It seems I turned it down because I am not up-to-date with the latest thinking on iodine. I had said I would help out but then decided I should make sure I agreed with the recommendations the group makes. In asking some questions I discovered that they recommend iodine supplementation. I am not a supporter of iodine supplementation and that did it for me, I turned them down.

You see, 4 years ago my mentor was a “no iodine if you have Hashimoto’s” kind of gal. Her thinking, which is still correct, was based on the fact that iodine supplementation can cause flare-ups of Hashimoto’s and believe me flare-ups are not pleasant. She used to tell all of us that our thyroid medication filled all of our iodine needs and any further iodine would just make us sick.

I have adhered to this philosophy pretty stringently and it has worked for me. However, I have done many things that have improved my health including taking T3-only and healing my adrenals with Paul Robinson’s Circadian method of taking T3. I got my electrolytes normalized by taking slow release potassium and Celtic sea salt. I regularly take selenium and two years ago I went completely gluten-free which was one of the best things I ever did.

It is really hard to pinpoint that one thing that has made the difference but the hard truth is I may be healthy enough now to start supplementing iodine.

My Iodine history

I have a good reason for being wary of iodine despite the fact that it helps our bodies fight disease. I did take iodine about four years ago and I took 50 mg of Iodoral upon recommendation of another thyroid site dealing with iodine and Dr. David Brownstein. The idea is you detox bad things and the iodine feeds your thyroid and you get healthy with no other intervention. (Keep in mind that is a very simplistic and succinct statement it is far more complicated.)

At the time I took iodine my TSH went up to 13 which has never been the case not even when I was first diagnosed with thyroid problems umpteen years ago. That scared me and I lowered my dose but did not stop taking it. Once I started following advice on the RT3 Yahoo group I gave up additional iodine completely.

On changing one’s mind

Fast forward to my thinking as of today, my mentor’s advice is still sound when dealing with really sick and fragile people but there has been good patient feedback, according to Janie Bowthorpe, with healthy people taking small doses of iodine (as little as 3 mg of iodine and up to 12.5 mg of iodine).

My mentor was also correct we do get iodine in our thyroid medication but the amount of iodine in thyroid medications like Cynomel/Cytomel and NDT is measured in mcg and is inadequate to provide enough for your body as “the body is made up of about 1500 mg of iodine in all our tissues”. With the constant bombardment of fluoride and bromide (we need iodine to push the fluoride and bromide out of our thyroid receptors) it is reasonable to think that we need more iodine (measured in mg) than our thyroid medication (measured in mcg) is providing.

Krisinsight

In conclusion, it seems reasonable to me to start supplementing with iodine but in very small doses. I am going to start with capsules by Pure Encapsulations (If you would like to order from iHerb you can use my coupon code YAN884 and get a discount on your first order) that only provide mcg of additional iodine. I already supplement 200 mcg  of selenium which is a must (start with selenium and then add iodine if you want to try it). I am going to add additional B1 and B2 because iodine works synergistically with those co-factors and also Vitamin K (which is also needed to utilize Vitamin D).

My thinking, and no one else’s, is if a small dose has no ill-effect on me I will raise my dose and eventually take 6.25 mg but no more. High dose supplementation as recommended by Dr. Brownstein and others just did not work well for me and I do not care to repeat my experience.

I have always really respected Dr. Joe Mercola and his ability to rethink his advice. Over the years he has changed his recommendation on the amount of water one needs to drink, how much protein your body requires and even the type of exercise that is the most efficient. I think we really need to be willing to change. If patient’s are being helped with some iodine supplementation and not experiencing an autoimmune flare-up, my time has come.

Santé,

Kris

P.S. My recent Vitamin D test result was lower than February’s result yet again. In March my result was 74 ng/ml August’s results were 61 ng/ml. Every summer it is the same, my result is lower than the winter result when I am using my Mercola Sunsplash D-lites. This has now been true for 5 years.

 

 

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Awesome Autumn

IMG_1917 (2)Happy first full day of autumn. It is feeling very fall-like in Minnesota and thanks to a second half of summer drought our leaves are already turning. They change color not because of autumn but because they are struggling to survive. We started out the summer wet and cool but the second half left our landscape parched and thirsty. It is so sad to see about 20 trees dead or dying around our rural acreage but Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.

Vacations and your health

I have just returned from two weeks abroad and while I am feeling good and not too tired, I have some acrimonious aches and pains that are immobilizing me at the moment. While hiking in the Borders of Scotland I tripped on a gnarly tree root that was slippery from morning rain and went right down on my chest as my hands were elsewhere, I guess. That fall knocked the wind right out of me and jarred an old injury to my ribs (caused by two poodles who whisked me off a porch in pursuit of a squirrel).

My right side is so sore sleep is, at best, restless and broken. Once home I spent as much time as possible with my fabulous grandsons and having picked up and cuddled two boys for two days I know that is “verboten” as well. I am unbelievably sad about not being able to pick up those boys and cuddle them but I can’t aggravate this injury anymore.

Barefoot running and Morton’s neuroma

Before my holiday, I was running barefoot on my paved driveway and had gotten up to a mile of barefoot running. Around the time we left my right foot was hurting and now I know I have a Morton’s neuroma that is alive and well. I have had a neuroma in my left foot for ages that came on after walking barefoot  or with my Vibram- 5- Fingers on the beach in Florida for a few days. That neuroma seems to have faded away with time but now has been replaced by this one which is causing me considerable pain and discomfort. I guess barefoot running is also a forbidden sport, at least for now.

Aches and pains be damned

So, aches and pains aside my holiday was lovely. The weather was very summer-like and the cottage we rented for the second year in a row was perfect for us again this year. This wee croft cottage is extremely private (if you don’t count the sheep, deer, otter, dolphins and passing boats as a crowd) and we can walk unimpeded by other humans for hours.

One day we lunched on the shoreline of a nearby private cove looking out to sea. As we watched shipping traffic in the faraway sea channel we saw a few black “things” jump from the water. Then we saw a few more and in the end probably 2 dozen dolphins in a pod. They were obviously following a school of fish but they entertained us for nearly an hour eventually coming up our inlet (Loch Feochan) and frolicking right in front of us.

I love our weeks in Great Britain. After living there in the 80’s we fully intended to live there again one day but Osama’s grand plan (otherwise known as 9/11) got in the way, so instead we rent a cottage here and there and live the good life for a week on our own. Our second week is very dear to both of us as we spend it visiting our long time friends (former neighbors and lifetime friends) who just plain make my heart happy.

On being gluten-free and on holiday

This year staying with friends was more difficult since I have gone gluten-free. I knew the one friend would be fine with it as she has a sister who is gluten-free. She kindly dedicated a corner counter to me in the kitchen. She scrubbed her toaster and made some gluten-free treats basically having us all eat gluten-free as much as possible. I didn’t ask her to do that but she did and I enjoyed and appreciated her efforts. Probably more than anything she didn’t make me feel bad about it; she just accepted it and made me feel okay about my change of diet.

My other friend really didn’t understand being gluten-free, so she struggled a bit.  At one point she even said to me, in a very gentle voice, “A little gluten won’t hurt you!”. The odd thing is this friend is a pescatarian (they say vegetarian but they do eat fish) and if meat even touches their food they won’t eat it, so I thought she might be more understanding but alas I don’t blame her for being irritated. Being gluten-free is not an easy thing for me either.

Some helpful gluten-free travel tips

Before we left I carefully updated my profile on Delta to say I needed gluten-free food. This, it turns out, was a useless endeavor. It simply was never recorded I guess, so I had to pick food that seemed the least touched by flours and grains. Meanwhile, because there was someone on both flights that had nut allergies the entire plane was warned and nuts were not available (but pretzels were). I don’t blame the people with nut allergies but I wish Delta Airlines would take gluten intolerance as seriously.

On the way home, by now somewhat chagrined by my experience with Delta, I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t know I needed gluten-free food and drink.  To her credit she relayed my question to someone who could answer it. What I was told was I needed to request gluten-free food for every flight I take. Apparently updating my profile did absolutely no good which is, needless to say, disappointing. My advice: Make sure to inform the airline on every flight you take where food is served, that you need gluten-free food.

Delta Airlines aside, I was amazed at all the gluten-free items available in England and Scotland, especially Tesco, Booth’s and Sainsbury’s. Restaurants are very careful to keep you safe if you tell them you are gluten-free. Also, if you are travelling in Britain, if it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” it probably isn’t. Sometimes even if it does say “Gluten Free” you might check the ingredients carefully. One bottle of Worcester Sauce (a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce) said it was gluten-free but in looking at the ingredients (I started having some heart irregularity) it contained malt vinegar which is not technically gluten-free. I know, picky, picky but this trip was so much better than any I have had in years I am convinced being gluten-free is right for me and sometimes you have to be “picky”.

One treat that perhaps I shouldn’t have indulged in, but did, is bread. If you like toast or sandwiches while on vacation in Britain most grocery stores sell the best gluten-free bread. It is the Genius brand. It is the same size as normal bread and has the same texture as other bagged breads. I came home thinking surely I could find a similar bread here, which I did. At least it was called Genius but it isn’t the same and I can tell you not to bother buying it. The Genius bread here isn’t even as good as Udi’s Gluten free bread and it is more expensive.

The proof is in the pudding, gluten free  pudding that is

In past years, I have “treated” myself to one or two weeks of gluten while on holiday. In fact, whenever I have gone on vacation I was eating gluten be it abroad or here in the States. At home I was gluten-free but I would throw caution to the wind when away from home thinking this was mentally good for me, basically a total break from the norm.

What was happening though was not good for me. Almost every night I was away from home I would wake up about an hour or two after going to bed with a pounding head and heart. My heart beat would be in excess of 100 bpm and the only thing that calmed it was “tincture of time” and a big glass of salt water. I would read for a couple of hours and then crawl back in bed and sleep until morning. Inevitably, I would lower my dose of T3 which did help but did not eliminate the problem. For some reason, it never occurred to me that gluten might be implicated until last winter.

Light bulb moments

It wasn’t a momentous occasion but I did have a regular wheat crust on a pizza right after Christmas 2012 and immediately had issues with the racing heart and a sleepless night. I hadn’t had any gluten at that time since September’s vacation, so the light suddenly and finally went on. I had a gluten problem. It wasn’t just that I shouldn’t eat gluten because Dr. Mercola condemns wheat and grains I actually have gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac’s Disease. Now even coffee seems to be off the “treat” list as my joints scream at me “No more coffee!” as soon as I indulge. Just so you know, if you have trouble with gluten you may have trouble with coffee.

Another light bulb moment for me was last autumn when I got shingles shortly after my autumn indulgence, aka vacation. What I finally remembered was that almost every autumn within weeks of returning from my gluten filled weeks I would get, not necessarily shingles, but a rash on my lower back that, according to my doctor, was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It was initially a burning pain on my back and within a day or two would break out in this ugly dark blistered rash. When I got shingles I assumed that rash had been shingles but in talking to Dr. Lane she said it was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis because of its location and the fact that it did cross a center-line of my body.

Krisinsight

I really didn’t intend this to be all about my gluten-free lifestyle but every thing seems important to mention just in case you have suffered similar effects after eating gluten or if you happen to have a holiday to Britain in the works and you are gluten-free. I hope you found the gluten-free information helpful but I really wanted to talk about my latest Vitamin D test.

This was my fourth year of testing because I started in August 2009 as part of a test group for the Vitamin D Council. At that time my D level was 64 ng/ml. That winter (March 2010) my D levels were 92 ng/ml. The next August they were 58 ng/ml. The following March they were 70 ng/ml. August 2011-56 ng/ml. February 2012-70 ng/ml. August 2012-91 ng/ml. March 2013-84 ng/ml.

This August my levels were 64 ng/ml. That is down from February’s 84 ng/ml but mostly typical of what my summertime results have been with the exception of August 2012. I really can’t say why my winter results are almost consistently higher than my summer results. I use my Sunsplash Renew more in the winter than the summer but I am outside in the summer and I do expose my body to sunlight at midday at least three times a week in the summer. I seldom take D supplementation relying solely on my Sunsplash Renew and the summer sun. I never wash after sunbathing (or using my D lights) always letting 24 hours pass before a shower and even then I only soap vitals areas (as per Dr. Mercola).

Suffice it to say, my levels are always within normal limits but I would prefer they stay closer to 90 ng/ml, so long as my sole source of Vitamin D is natural and not supplementation. I have one more year to be part of the study, so come February I will test my levels again. I am trying to spend 20 minutes three times a week in front of my Sunsplash Renew to see if that brings my levels up in February but now I wonder if what I need to do in the summer is take Vitamin D supplements to maintain a level that helps my compromised immune system since I do have Hashimoto’s.

Ah, in the end life it just one big experiment isn’t it?

Santé,

Kris

Better Late Than Never

IMG_1917 (2)Phew! I can’t believe it is already March 10, 2013 but so be it. Last Monday blew by me in a puff of childish laughter and, if I dare say, infant tears and upset. I was so busy being Nonna for the grandsons there just wasn’t time to share but as always there is time to care, so this week I want to share some really interesting information.

Before I get started, I did want to let you know that my Vitamin D results came back this week. I have supplemented my Sunsplash Renew this 6 months because I want to take Vitamin K for my bones, so on average 4 days a week I take a Vitamin D/Vitamin K supplement that includes about 1000 iu’s of Vitamin D per dose. In August my Vitamin D was 91 ng/ml in February my levels were 84 ng/ml. I have been using the Sunsplash about three times a week 10 or 20 minutes at a time but there are times like right before I drew blood this time that I haven’t been in front of the lights for 7 days or more. I think 84 ng/ml isn’t too bad for the middle of a dreich winter.

Pain, searing pain!

Last Monday, along with the joy of grandchildren filling my life I had a doctor’s appointment with my homeopathic MD, Dr. Kim Lane. It was an appointment that was meant to be but almost wasn’t. The weather conspired against me, a bad back belonging to my son-in-law conspired against me but in the end it was an incident that occurred while caring for my almost two-year old grandson that scared me right in to her office.

On Saturday afternoon, Odin and his now 59-year-old Nonna were out frolicking in the snow. I love having Odin around because I find my inner child and that inner child was walking through calf high snow hauling my bundle of joy around on his sled. We slid down hills several times and walked back up them. When that got boring we took a trek through virgin snow to see the neigh-boring horses. By the time we got back to the house I was overheated and thirsty as heck.

I remembered I had a cold container of water sitting in a nearby car, so I got the container out and chugged icy cold water. It tasted so good and was so thirst quenching I probably inhaled about 10 ounces of water in the blink of an eyelid. Odin and I were going to feed the birds, aka Caw Caws, so as he watched me I bent over and started filling a pail with black sunflower seeds.

When I stood back up to reach for Odin’s hand I was nearly floored by a searing pain in my upper left quadrant. The paralyzing affliction occurred each time I inhaled and then each stab was followed by low, rumbling and horrible sounding belches. I belched and belched but tried to take slow shallow inhalations in between each agonizing stab. This level of intensity lasted for about 15 minutes but in the first few minutes I knew I needed to get Odin inside close to Grandpa just in case something happened to me. While keeping a brave face (I hope) and thus assuring Odin all was well we slowly, ever so slowly made our way inside the house, birdseed suddenly forgotten.

What the heck?

At moments like this I try to keep my cool but all I could imagine was that I was having a heart attack in front of a very impressionable two-year old and how that could affect his life from here on out. His life? Ha, how would it affect my life? How could I miss his growing up and going to his games, meeting his friends, etc? What if I never saw Arthur walk and talk? Gosh the awful places your brain goes when something like this occurs but deep down a pervasive thought was growing.

I have had this pain before and it wasn’t a heart attack but I never did figure out what it was. It actually originates from a very specific spot in my upper left quadrant, right under my left breast at the edge of my ribcage (I can touch the spot at the moment and it is still tender). As I belched and ached I made my way downstairs where the SU was exercising and tried to tell him I was in trouble (hard to do with ear phones securely attached to said head and person off in space somewhere). He basically blew me off but did keep an eye on Odin who was now semi-securely placed in his “Pack and Play (“semi” because he knows how to get out quite easily).

I then sat down and took my blood pressure. It was an astounding 129/98. My pulse was 112 and all this didn’t help settle my panic. My blood pressure is normally well within normal limits if not a bit low, so these numbers were, on their own, frightening. I could tell that the pain, while not subsiding, was not getting worse and as each jab was accompanied by a low rumble of escaping gas I now was convinced this was not a heart attack. Exertion did not bring it on but breathing did, great! Like that is somehow better.

Come Hell or high water

Within an hour all pain had subsided and my breathing was back to normal. In fact, after a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and a few more belches I returned to normal as if nothing had happened. I was physically and emotionally drained after a scare like that but there was no digestive upset, no pain in my upper left quadrant and my blood pressure had gone down to 98/65 (adrenal stress brought that baby right down) I was as normal as I get (which, depending on who you ask is not all that normal).

At this point I knew my appointment with Dr. Lane was fortuitous. It had not been planned but I needed some prescriptions (SR Potassium and T3) filled just in case ordering from overseas becomes impossible (the new health care bill tagged Obamacare wants to forbid overseas prescriptions from entering our borders). I actually got the appointment because friend Chloe had cancelled hers that afternoon to take a later one and I was offered her time. Hurrah! It was all meant to happen. I needed an answer or I needed guidance as to what to do next and I knew she could help me.

Dr. Lane

On Monday, after checking in I sat down in Dr. Lane’s new digs and started to pour out my story. She asked very pointed questions and did an exam of my chest, back and lower abdomen. I told her about the physical activity, the cold water, the stooping over, standing up and the resultant searing pains accompanied by loud heavy belching all coming from my upper left quadrant.

Her questions were as follows:

Did any pain occur during the physical activity? “No”

Was the water really cold? “Yes”

How long did it take for the pain to subside? “About an hour”

Where did it hurt? I showed her the exact spot the pain originated from and she palpated it later.

Diagnosis? Do you want to take some guesses before I tell you? I will answer below in Krisinsight just in case you want to try it out. I know I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion but her reasons were very sound and based on what doctors know about heart attacks in women.

Now for homeopathy

Dr. Lane is also a homeopathic doctor, so we discussed my latest remedy and the results. When I took my Aconite 200 about three weeks ago I screwed up everything I could possibly screw up. I put something in my mouth minutes after taking the first remedy. I did this despite knowing I needed to have a window of time when you have nothing 30 minutes prior to taking the remedy and nothing for 30 minutes after. The second time, exactly 12 hours later, I dropped almost all the pellets on the floor and had to pick them up and sort out 4-5 to take. Once the pellets are touched the energy of the remedy changes, so really even that dose was tainted.

My energy has been fine but my hands have been cold especially when keyboarding. My overall body temperature continues to run on the low side. My weight is probably stable but I remain on the heavy side of where I should be weight-wise. I think my sex hormones are more balanced than they were on bio-identical hormones and hot flashes while they do exist are minimal. Vaginal lubrication is better than it has been in years (I know, I know but for some this can be very important) and in general my interest in sex has increased and my fasting glucose numbers are always in the low 80’s.

The homeopathic prescription was to repeat the Aconite 200, 12 hours apart and wait about 6 weeks. I took it on Thursday March 6. That night I slept very poorly even though I was exhausted but the next day my morning temperatures were up. At 10:00 my thermometer read 98.4, higher than it has been in some while. Now it is a wait and see game, wait to see what effect the remedy has on my overall health.

Krisinsight

First, Dr. Lane’s insight or better said, her diagnosis: Esophageal Spasm It makes perfect sense to me now but I never would have concluded that on my own. When you expose your esophagus to radical temperatures changes you can cause a spasm. Until the spasm relaxes you might get belching with each contraction. You will get searing pain from each contraction and it will eventually relax and go away. The fact that the pain did not come on while I was exerting myself was quite indicative of spasm vs. heart attack. The increased blood pressure and pulse was my flight or fight response to a tense situation and my body did just what it was supposed to do. I have had this pain and belching before and was left in wonder as to what it was, what was happening. At the very least I will now know what it is and perhaps I will also avoid temperature extremes in my food and liquid intake.

As for my insight on homeopathy, I am intrigued. First, I really like Dr. Kim Lane. She is easy to talk to, very down to earth with a dry sense of humor. She is first and foremost a medical doctor but with her knowledge of the body she can make homeopathy work even better. We have had some real heart to heart discussions and many of them have left me in tears, drained of emotion. All these difficult questions are helping her assess the situation and prescribe the correct remedy. Since I started with her last autumn I have changed. Some things are better; some are the same but overall I have more confidence and I understand myself better than ever before. My sleep, while not perfect, is so much better I cannot describe how good that feels.

I don’t have blood labs to prove any organic change but when I do get my blood labs run I will report the results right here. My thinking is, at this point, I don’t really care what the labs say, I feel better. We have made it through the worst of the flu season with nary a sniffle between us (Did I really just say that? Oh dear!). I can climb through snow up to my thighs and while it leaves me breathless I can do it. I am still taking 37.5 mcg of T3 and with increasing temperatures I am going to hold the status quo. I take some K-Dur and I still take 2 teaspoons of sea salt in water every day, so some things stay the same but overall if you continue to fight for that next level of healthiness with your thyroid dis-ease I can safely recommend trying homeopathy. It may just heal your soul and, after all is said and done, every body needs to heal from the inside out.

Santé,

Kris

A Surefire Way to Raise Your D Levels

What rolls around twice a year, in August and February?August being the hottest month of the year and February one of the coldest (not to mention darkest times of the year). If you guessed my Vitamin D testing you would be ever so correct, so let’s delve in to this year’s results.

When should Vitamin D levels be their highest?

I have another question for you my educated and informed readers? If you were given a multiple choice questionnaire about Vitamin D and one question was “When will your Vitamin D levels be their highest?” Possible answers: A) June B) February C) October or D) August. What would your answer be? Hint: at 45 degrees latitude we form Vitamin D on our skin from May through the first of September, period.

If I didn’t have evidence to disprove it, I would answer D) August. By that time of the summer you have been outside a lot. Also in August there are some cooler days, so you might actually be outside more. You have exposed unprotected skin to the rays of the sun when it is at its most powerful D producing position. It will have been close enough to Earth for 2 months in August and your D levels should be maxed out.

But the answer is……

Well that would be the wrong answer. I have proof looking me right in the eye (Or is my eye looking right at the proof?). I have my test results for 3 years and for all three years my Vitamin D levels are their highest in B) February.

Here is the list of my results starting in August 2009 (with the same acceptable range for all three years of 32-100 ng/ml):

  • August 2009- 64 ng/ml
  • March 2010- 92 ng/ml
  • August 2010- 58 ng/ml
  • March 2011- 70 ng/ml
  • August 2011- 56 ng/ml
  • February 2012- 70 ng/ml (actual time-tested was the same but the lab got the result back to me earlier this year).

I am consistently higher in the winter and one winter I even had my levels where I would like them at 90 ng/ml. Why 90 ng/ml? Simply put, because I have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). Unfortunately, try as I might, I can’t seem to achieve that 90 ng/ml again but 70 is very acceptable and in the high end of the acceptable range.

How does a person achieve good winter-time results?

You probably know how I achieve my good winter D levels if you have been reading my blog for any period of time. For those who haven’t been tuning in my blog every Monday morning, I use a healthy tanning system, the Sunsplash Renew, sold on Mercola.com to get my levels up to 70 ng/ml in the winter.

I stand in front of the light panel for 10-20 minutes three times a week, dancing and singing to Michael Bublé or listening to Krispin Sullivan talk about Omega 3 oils, and it keeps my Vitamin D levels almost perfect in the winter. I do this without clothing and after a shower, so my skin is clean and free of lotions. I do not shower for 24 hours post tanning session and I do not use soap on my stomach for 36 hours (belly skin is the best at producing Vitamin D).

The Sunsplash Renew has pink lights in the region of your face that protect the delicate facial skin from any damaging ultraviolet light, and, in fact, the pink lights are supposed to rejuvenate your facial skin. I can honestly say I don’t see that particular benefit in my aging facial skin but it isn’t doing any harm either. The light panel also does not tan my skin with anything other than the lightest tan but I am quite fair and I take 4 mg of Astaxanthan every day which may have some bearing on its tanning effects.

Why use a Sunsplash Renew?

Dr. Mercola recommends tanning lights for building Vitamin D but he does not recommend normal tanning light because they emit x-rays at the ends of the bulbs and as we all know x-rays can be hazardous to your health. The tanning systems he sells on his site produce UVA and UVB (the spectrum that tans and produces Vitamin D on your skin) without the harmful x-ray emission. One set of lights they sell won’t tan (the D-Lite System) just in case you are a person who doesn’t want the tanning capability.

What else can you do to achieve optimal D levels?

In the summer I expose my bare skin to the midday sun for 20 minutes and I do not shower it off. I try to do it three times a week and I garden in as little clothing as possible, so even more sunlight exposure, but I garden in the morning and that sunlight is not the best. However, you see for yourself that the results in the summer are not as good as my winter results using the Sunsplash Renew light system.

This past winter, I did take supplemental Vitamin D as well. I didn’t take it all the time but when I did I took 5000 mg capsules and I would take it with Vitamin A (the retinol form as people with thyroid disease do not absorb the beta-carotene form very well).

If I had what appeared to be cold-like symptoms coming on I would take a megadose of Vitamin D for at least 24 hours and generally that was a 5000 mg capsule three or four times a day for the first day. Any cold-like symptoms would come and go within three days with the worst of it lasting less than 24 hours. I normally don’t get colds at all but I think my adorable grandson exposes me to germs to which I had become unfamiliar. I am now more familiar with those particular germs.

Supplemental Vitamin D taken alone or as part of cod liver oil supplementation is more risky than producing it on your skin with sunlight or tanning lights. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means it is stored in fat and if you get too much it is hard to get rid of the excess. If you take supplemental D you really should test your D levels at least once a year to make sure you have not overdosed on D. If you use the sun or a safe tanning system to achieve optimal D you will never overdose as your body can take care of the D it produces.

My Insight

It is expensive to achieve optimal Vitamin D levels with a tanning system like the one Mercola.com sells* but can we really put a price tag on good health? More and more scientific evidence is pointing to disease prevention by keeping your D levels optimum.

There are several studies pointing to breast cancer prevention with proper D levels. We know Rickets is preventable with proper Vitamin D levels. Afraid of the flu? Don’t vaccinate, use a Sunsplash Renew or take 8000 ius of Vitamin D per day probably all year. Afraid of osteoporosis? Take your D or use a safe tanning option year round. Parkinson’s, MS, you name it, more and more they have scientific evidence to prove (for those who need the studies to prove effectiveness) the importance of optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Test your D levels. It is cheap, as blood tests go, and it doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. Once you know your levels you can adjust your sun exposure or the supplements you take to optimize your D and your health.

Santé,

Kris

* I am not advertising nor getting any monetary reward for recommending  the Sunsplash Renew. I simply want my readers to know what has worked very well for me.

Good News for Bone Health

I have just returned from a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday along the coast of Oregon. It always feels good to get back home but I find the sea feeds my emotionally needy soul and leaving the vast water behind is akin to leaving a small part of me behind. Fear not, I shall recover that small but important entity on my next visit to the ocean.

Inbox: BioBalance Report

While I was away my trusty computer was along and I easily kept track of emails and the latest news when our internet connection would allow such vacation interruptions. One piece of mail that arrived was most welcome- my December NTx results.

That piece of mail had the potential to be most unwelcome but upon opening the email I found, to my great relief, that my NTx results showed remarkable improvement from the results I had in November 2010. The improvement in my results made me think that perhaps many of my female readers and especially my fellow thyroid people might not know about the NTx test and now I could provide some valuable insight.

Online Links to Articles About NTx Testing

If you want to know more details about the NTx test I have listed two sites that explain the test and why you might want to have it done:

http://www.betterbones.com/bonehealth/bonebreakdowntests.aspx

http://www.womentowomen.com/understandyourbody/tests/ntxforbones.aspx

Very unscientifically put the NTx test measures the N-Telopeptides in your urine which shows your bone loss on a daily basis. I now have had four NTx tests and have some insight of my own, so we can compare the results and I can share my insight with you my readers.

Past NTx Test Results

My first NTx test was in October 2008. At that time my bone loss was elevated as was shown by a result of  53nM BCE (bone collagen equivalent). Six months before the test I had begun taking bio-identical hormones (E1, E2 compounded cream and Progesterone) as suggested by Dr. Robert Bruley to halt bone loss. I was also taking compounded T4 with some additional T3 for my thyroid.

Then in November 2009, approximately a year later I performed another NTx test and my results were still elevated at 51.53 nM BCE. At that time I was taking Armour (60 mg dose) plus E1 and E2 cream and oral Progesterone.

In November 2010 I took the NTx test again and my results were  shockingly high at 219.37 / 187.97 nM BCE (urine collected at 5:30 and 6 am). Normal readings should be <38. Elevated readings are considered to be in the range of 38-60 and anything over 60 is considered to be a high rate of bone loss on a daily basis. My T3 dose at that time was 87.5 mcg, I was using E1 and E2 and Testosterone creams, plus oral progesterone and I was headed for trouble.

2011 NTx Test Results

You might now understand the trepidation with which I looked at my recent December 2011 results. In 2010, I had the feeling that the extremely high rate of bone loss was due to my thyroid treatment at the time but I didn’t know for sure. Now with the results of my most recent test in hand I knew I had been correct.

With great relief I read my results: 32.93nM BCE (remember anything less than 38 is considered normal for a pre-menopausal female). Hurrah! A normal test result, perhaps I am more in balance than even I thought I was. This time I was on a dose of 50 mcg of T3 and taking Estradiol 2-4 mg per day and the oral Progesterone 200 mg every day.

What Happened in 2010?

What was happening in November 2010? I was in the throes of adjusting to T3- only (7 months after switching to T3) and was on a dose that was too high for my body to handle. I was actually in a hyperthyroid state (due to T3 pooling instead of being used) and it is known that people with hyperthyroidism have a high rate of bone loss and a subsequent risk of fracture.

My T3 journey has been the topic of so many of my blog postings I will not go in to detail here (you can search for my blogs on hypothyroidism by typing “hypothyroid” in to the search box and at the end of each page of listings you will find “older entries” for even more). Suffice it to say that at the time I was trying to dose according to basal temperatures. Despite being on a dose of T3 that was causing rapid bone loss my temperatures never did show a normal reading or if they did they would spike and then the next day be low again (a sure sign of too much T3 causing adrenal stress).

Kris Insight

NTx testing can show you your daily bone loss and help you tweak your diet and exercise to maximize bone formation. The following is my to-do list to get you started:

  • Normalize your thyroid and sex hormones as quickly and naturally as possible.
  •  Limit sugary foods including most fruit. Eat foods high in Magnesium and K2 (dark green vegetables). If you tolerate dairy, you can add raw milk and raw milk products like kefir, yogurt, butter and cheese for your calcium.
  •  Optimize your Vitamin D levels preferably by exposing your skin to midday sun for 20 minutes or using a safe tanning option. If you live above the equator, especially at 45 degrees as I do, sun exposure is only useful from May-September. Mercola.com sells a safe tanning system and I use the Sunsplash Renew.
  • Adding supplements like magnesium, (Mark Sircus would say magnesium chloride transdermally as well as orally) K2, and Strontium will also help.
  •  Weight bearing exercise is known to cause the formation of bone and thus is of vital importance. Biking and swimming while useful exercise do not help build bone as there is no weight bearing on your limbs. You need to lift weights (the ligaments pull on the bone), run and/or walk. Sadly being overweight actually helps build bone but the risks of being obese are too great to justify it for load bearing reasons.
  • Order an NTx test here if your doctor doesn’t know about it.

To your good bone health,

Kris

How to Successfully Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

It is that time again. What time? Time for me to blog about health issues. My health issues to be precise. Many of my readers  share my endocrine issues and have many of my same goals, optimally running endocrine and immune systems. How do you keep your immune system fighting fit? One way is to keep your Vitamin D levels in a healthy range and I think I can say with confidence that I know how you can best keep your D levels optimal.

I have felt for some time that if I could maintain my Vitamin D levels around 50 ngs/ml I was okay, not great, but okay because generally the range for optimum D levels (if you aren’t fighting health issues) are 35-65 ngs/ml. However, imagine my surprise when this week Ann Louise Gittleman, self proclaimed first lady of nutrition, posted the following message on Facebook: “Top Vitamin D experts are advising their female patients that blood levels of Vitamin D should be at least 40 ngs/mL for bone health and 80 for cognition and breast cancer prevention….”

Joe Mercola had the same thing to say and John Cannell even had more reasons to keep your D levels around 80, like controlling estrogen, and combating MS. Then Mike Adams published this article on Sunday August 28th discussing Vitamin D and its relationship to diabetes. I don’t know about you but I would love to have enough Vitamin D in my body to fight breast cancer, help build bone, avoid diabetes and retain my cognitive abilities.

On the same day I read Ms. Gittleman’s quotation I received my latest blood test results from Grassroots Health. If you have read my blog for any length of time you will recall that two years ago I joined a Vitamin D test group. At the time John Cannell had initiated the study and for $40 every 6 months for five years I have my blood tested for Vitamin D levels. That means, in case, you don’t feel like doing the math, twice a year I test my Vitamin D levels.

My D levels this past 6 months, which include the valuable summer sun months of May through September, were 56 ngs/ml. One year ago at this same time my D levels were 54 ngs/ml. In the past three months I purposefully have also been supplementing Vitamin D3, approximately 5000 iu’s three times a week. For that reason I was disappointed with the 56 ngs/ml. I was certain that the supplemental D in addition to exposing my naked skin (defined as bare skin with no SPF of any kind on it) three times a week for 20 minutes would have my levels closer to 70 ngs/ml.

In March of 2011, after 6 months of winter, my levels were 70 ngs/ml. A year before that, in March 2010, my blood test had a remarkable result of 92 ngs/ml. That is, my friends, simply amazing. Why? Those results showed up in my blood test after not taking any supplemental Vitamin D and exclusively using my Sunsplash Renew.

The first year I thought it was a fluke but now two years running my levels have been higher after 6 months of winter exposure to the Sunsplash Renew than after 4 months of summer sun exposure plus supplemental Vitamin D. There is no other explanation. I do not find myself on an island paradise during the winter nor spending hours in equatorial sunshine all I do is use my Sunsplash Renew three times a week 10 minutes at a time.

I have said it before and will say it again, if you aren’t checking your Vitamin D levels you should. Most Americans are sadly deficient. If your blood test reveals that your levels aren’t between 65 ngs/ml (basically healthy with no health challenges) to 80 ngs/ml (autoimmune diseases, diabetics, heart problems, cancer) you need to increase your intake of Vitamin D and/or spend 10 minutes three times a week in front of D producing lights.

If you choose the latter method, be sure you don’t bathe the skin for 24 hours after exposure to the D lights and avoid soap, on belly skin in particular, for 36 hours post exposure. This allows for the Vitamin D to be produced (via cholesterol in the skin where it is converted to D3) and then soak in and be utilized by the body. If you choose Vitamin D3 supplements you may need to take at least 5000 iu’s per day in the winter months but always, always test, never assume.

Aside from increasing my Vitamin D levels and making my immune system fighting fit I have been working on my blog for next week as I have updated information regarding my T3 only thyroid treatment. I know, I know does the fun never end? But I hope to see you here, same time, same place next Monday.

Take care, take your Vitamin D3,

Kris

What Flute Are You Following?

You know the story of the Pied Piper, right? It struck me in talking to my friend this week that many of us follow our doctor’s advice like they are Pied Pipers. They say something, we follow it like some magical flute leading us along a wrong way path, often because we are given no choice in the matter.

I have talked to far too many people who, when they question a doctor’s diagnosis or ask about something their doctor said (or didn’t say), are put on the spot with some inane question like “I suppose you read that online” accompanied by a look that puts you in your place. For those folks, I thought I would share my friend’s recent experience. As usual I will most likely make a short story long but bear with me.

My friend, who shall remain nameless for privacy sake, receives medical care from, in my words, a functional medicine physician (or integrative is another term for the same type of medical practice) for Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Functional medicine physicians as defined by me are MDs who ask more questions, incorporate all walks of medicine in their practice and generally think outside the box. I think they are far superior to the poor overworked GP who has been told by their practice managers that they have no more than 15 minutes per patient and sometimes, it has been noted, never take their hand off the doorknob. This is an important detail because she is being treated, let’s just say for the ease of it, in a rather elite fashion.

My friend and I have weekly discussions about health because we are both avid researchers and honestly, we are willing to experiment with alternative medical treatments. For example, I met my friend when I owned a FIR sauna business. She came in for FIR sauna treatments to help diminish her fibromyalgia pain. She was experimenting to see if the sauna would really help (To her doctor’s credit she had suggested the FIR sauna).

To exemplify my willingness to try alternative medical care, two years ago I bought a Mercola Sunsplash Renew because Joe Mercola claimed it could maintain healthy D levels with no supplementation. I felt having good D levels was of primary importance to the healthy functioning of a human body. I think this is another important detail because both my friend and I try to think outside the proverbial “box”.

We also try various treatment plans our doctors suggest and we try out things we have researched and then we spend time testing these things and discussing them. We have often discussed thyroid disease as that is my primary interest and my friend would tell me about symptoms she thought were typical of hypothyroidism. Practitioners like Dr. John Lowe feel that there is a connection between Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism, so I asked her long ago in one discussion if she had ever had a complete thyroid panel. In my opinion, everyone who has some symptoms should have a complete thyroid panel and if your doctor won’t test it then do it yourself.

At the time she told me “No, my doctor has only run a TSH. She always says I am fine.” Really? REALLY? My friend is cold all the time, she suffers from constipation, she can’t sleep, she has unremitting pain and rather more subjectively she feels her hair is falling out. What more do you need before you as a doctor run a complete thyroid panel?

On and on these discussions went and this year when she saw her integrative medical doctor for her yearly appointment my friend requested a complete thyroid panel be done. I will list below the thyroid tests plus the other tests that Janie Bowthorpe recommends to diagnose hypothyroidism properly:

      1-TSH – this lab is only for diagnosis of hypopituitary NOT to diagnose or dose your hypothyroidism
      2-Free T4 and Free T3 (note the word “free”–important since it measures what is unbound and available.)
      3-Reverse T3–to be done at the same time you do the Free T3. Then calculate your ratio with the results.
      4-Thyroid Antibodies (anti-TPO and TgAb. YOU NEED BOTH.)
      5-Ferritin and % Saturation, TIBC and serum iron (all iron related labs)
      6-Adrenal- Cortisol levels (make sure it is done with saliva tests, not the one time blood test your doctor will do.)
      7-B-12 and Folate
      8-RBC Magnesium and Potassium (rather than serum), plus Calcium, Sodium, Glucose (part of Metabolic panel, though you’ll need RBC for above)
      9-Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D lab test)

My friend had tested many of these things prior to this year’s appointment, so she only requested the thyroid tests and guess what, just guess? She has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, her FT3 was a little low and her FT4 was a little high and she had a RT3 ratio of 12 and it should be at least 20. She has hypothyroidism and a RT3 issue and no one, not even the best doctor in our area, had ever checked this out and it would have been so simple. If she hadn’t been diligent, irritatingly persistent and had a doctor willing to indulge her requests she would never have known that her thyroid needs attention.

Of course, now the question is where does she go with her new found knowledge. It is a serous question to ponder. She does not want to self treat, so she is researching the “good thyroid” docs in our area and finding there aren’t very many, sadly she isn’t sure there are any, and this is the “progressive” state of Minnesota. She could go to her integrative medicine doctor but she was already told by that doctor that she knew nothing of reading a thyroid panel like the one my friend requested. I would suggest my functional medicine guy but he totally overlooked my RT3 ratio and when my TSH was suppressed by Armour he immediately lowered my dose which was unnecessary (when on NDT your TSH should be suppressed) , so I hardly want to refer someone to him.

It is a conundrum we all will face eventually. The best thing for all of us would be a revamping of our medical education and elimination of insurance driven medical practices but neither of those will ever happen (I feel government control is no better than insurance companies). We can take things in to our own hands as much as possible as Joe Mercola advocates with his “take control of your health”. Dr. Teitelbaum at End Fatigue had an interesting article on what to do if given a “serious diagnosis” but knowing the right thing for you when things go wrong is difficult at best.

There are many things that can go wrong with the human body. In this case, I think it comes down to the “thyroid madness” that Janie Bowthorpe refers to on her site and in her book “Stop the Thyroid Madness”. No one, not even elite doctors take the issue seriously and we patients have to stop following like lemmings and think for ourselves, do our research and be our own best advocate. If my friend weren’t her own best advocate she would still be in the dark about a treatable condition. I see this as a serious dereliction of duty on the part of medical doctors who have promised to “do no harm”. It is happening too often to too many people out there with hypothyroid symptoms. They are quite literally being led astray by a magical flute played by a medical school graduate referred to respectfully as Doctor. Never mind the last name is Pied Piper.