A couple weeks ago, I had a physical which included a blood test. The blood test revealed that my vitamin D level is very low, or, as I quickly began saying, “dangerously deficient!” (So engrained is my habit of exaggeration that I was actually surprised to see “very low” on the lab results printout: black-and-white evidence of my unconscious proclivity for over-dramatization.)
Vitamin D deficiency is the medical malady de jour. The idea is (among other factors) that sunscreen usage has increased, thus inhibiting the synthesis of adequate vitamin D levels into the skin via sunlight. The vitamin is principally responsible for calcium’s absorption into the body, so deficiency in children can lead to rickets, and deficiency in adults can lead to osteoporosis. Studies have also suggested – though not strongly enough to pass Wikipedia’s “muster” – that correct vitamin D levels inhibit cognitive degeneration late in life.
What did pampered ladies of bygone eras do to prevent such appalling ends, especially since they did not have access to artificially vitamin D-enhanced dairy products? I envision the brittle, misshapen bones of Georgian-era ladies crumbling under their milky skin as they recline on fainting couches, fragile minds adrift in the throes of Alzheimer’s. How did the ladies of the ton walk upright? Large-scale consumption of herring, liver, and egg? Ew, ladies. Gross.
Anyhoo. Vitamin D. Not enough of it. This is hardly surprising, given my virtual transparency. On more than one occasion, I’ve been mistaken for wearing white tights. Earlier this summer, S spotted me walking the dogs from a distance and thought that we were being trailed by a sassy little white dog. Yes, reader, this illusion came from the light-reflective qualities of my calves.
When I was very young, my inability to tan was a source of frustration. Then pale swung into fashion with the whole heroin chic-grungy thing and I never really looked back. I got a spray tan once, a few years ago, but only because it was half-off and I was curious. It was NOT a good look. Judging by the comments on a related Fashionista story today, the pale-shame I felt growing up in the 80s has all but vanished. Bright white all the way, baby!
Bright white + prescription-strength vitamin D supplements, that is.