Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mushrooms and Sun: Reviving Skin and Muscles

Yesterday I spent a much longer amount of time than necessary staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.


I poked and prodded at my skin, made faces, and stared long enough that I'm surprised my eyes didn't begin to water.  I was that intent on it.

Stick figure poking at her face, mouth shaped in an o as she stares into a mirror.

Well, from prior posts it's pretty obvious that I'm not particularly vain about my appearance.  I rarely put on any makeup at all.  It was a personal sacrifice to do any body hair removal for my little sister's wedding.  Appearance is the last thing I worry about.

So, what caused this sudden need to stare into a mirror?

Well, that morning, I woke up to discover that my skin looked great.  It looked vibrant, healthy, and, well... the way it's supposed to look.  And my energy levels were pretty much through the roof, which allowed me to notice the skin changes in the first place.

Which meant that before yesterday morning, I looked and felt like crap.

...and I never even realized it!


So I poked and prodded.  Something was different.  That much was obvious.  But what?

After careful reflection, I realized that my skin had looked horrible for a few weeks.  Skin is a very good indicator of health.  Therefore, I had been relatively unhealthy for almost a month.

This wasn't a particularly happy-making moment.

At first, I thought that perhaps I was just taking an extraordinarily long time to recover from the flu... but that answer didn't feel right.

Later on, I mentioned this strange skin transformation to a friend, and she mentioned Vitamin D.  I shrugged it off.  I've never had a problem with vitamin D.  I'm an outdoorsy type of person, after all!  I garden.  My grocery shopping is usually car-free.  There was absolutely no way I could have a vitamin D deficiency.

Except that I did.

I should have realized that someone used to living in the desert, with desert quality sunlight, would need more sun exposure after moving to the not-quite-so-sunny Upper Midwest.  That fact, however, never once occurred to me.  Because of this, I ended up in an unenviable position.

I hadn't been getting enough sun exposure.  

The truth is, it has been a while since I've walked to the grocery store - it's friggin cold outside!  I couldn't do any gardening either, because, well... it's friggin cold outside! No to mention that nasty flu that I caught, which, coincidentally, is a symptom.  You're more susceptible to the flu if you have a vitamin D deficiency.  I could go on with a full list of reasons, but there is only so much you can write in a single blog post.  Let it suffice to say that my sun exposure was minimal.

Sure, there are food sources of vitamin D, but I wasn't exactly getting them.  

Various fish can supply some vitamin D, but fish are expensive - a good reason to get a fishing license and learn how to catch them myself, right?

Vitamin D fortified milk is another great source, but I get my milk from Cedar Summit Farm, and they don't fortify their milk.  Why would they, after all?  I'm not about to change that practice.  I don't go for that whole homogenization of milk idea.  Breaking up the milk fats to make it pretty in a container just seems rather silly.

Now, there are no actual skin symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency.  

The reason why my skin was an indicator was that sunlight wasn't touching it nearly as often, so the overall 'look' of it had changed.  I was pale, and had a rather withdrawn look to me.

Once I realized this, I realized two things that I had done differently the day before that had a direct effect on my health:

  1. I went outside with my daughter for around 45 minutes.  The sun was actually out, and the temperature had raised to twenty!
  2. I ate a ton of mushrooms.
Number one is pretty obvious.  Sun is the best method of attaining vitamin D.

But mushrooms???

Smiling mushroom shouting, "I'm a hero!!!"

Well, I had eaten some mushrooms the night before that turned out to be high in vitamin D.  Not just a little high, but amazingly high.  Three ounces of these mushrooms give you 100% of the necessary daily requirement of vitamin D - and I was on a mushroom binge, so I ate more than 3 ounces.

Now, mushrooms aren't really naturally high in vitamin D.  

It turns out though, that they're spectacular sponges.  If a mushroom sits in the sun for a while, it soaks up the vitamin D that's found within those glorious rays.  It can then be transferred to our bodies through consumption.

Mushroom wearing sunglasses as the sun beams down, saying, "Oh, yeah... Gimme those rays."

My skin health appeared different due to the sun exposure.  Muscle weakness is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency.  Weakened muscles made me less energetic.  Therefore, my transformation occurred because of both the sun and the mushrooms.

Are you getting enough vitamin D?  

If you're not sure, spend more time outside and eat some mushrooms.  Your body will be thankful.

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