• Taste of France

    My dad also had multiple bouts of skin cancer (getting those cut-it-off-layer-by-layer surgeries on his face and ears), and to boost his Vitamin D he was told to expose the underside of his forearms for 15 minutes a day while keeping the rest of him covered and/or in the shade. That’s all it takes. 15 minutes a day on your forearms (turn them over to give the rays to the part that usually doesn’t get it). Of course, I’m not a doctor, I’m just repeating what he was told. So ask yours.
    I agree on using clothing for protection–long sleeves and turtleneck for me. Plus rash guards keep the pool water cleaner–not as much slimy lotion.

  • Karen Bernstein

    vitamin D FTW! If you were really, really low, you can take a prescription whopper dose for a few weeks to get it back up into the non-vampire range.

  • Stephanie Deal

    As I too am a bit of a very white vampire (LOL) as I also avoid the sun – I wasn’t surprised to learn that lack of vitamin D also aggravates my arthritis (who knew?). SO my Dr had me on mega-doses of D and now I’m on over the counter D. I really do feel better taking it. Good luck GF — hope you feel better SOON!

  • Suzy Soro

    I take 100,000 Vitamin D in liquid form every 3-4 months. I get it from France but you can get it here by prescription, I think? My mother never wore sunglasses and now has macular degeneration and they can’t prove it’s NOT from sun damage. I wear sunglasses even when I shower because A. I look good in them and B. I don’t have to squint when I’m outdoors, which makes wrinkles around the eyes and no thank you.

  • PaintingChef

    I’ve also suffered with a vitamin D deficiency and have had success with a daily supplement. I’m a very conscientious sunscreen-er (same history of skin cancer) but we are outdoor people in the summer so I was really surprised that I had a deficiency. Then my doctor asked me if I always wore sunglasses. Well duh. Yes. Have you seen how light my eyes are, doctor? Of course. Also I have sunlight-triggered migraines. I wear sunglasses until it is dark. APPARENTLY… your eyes are the biggest receptors of vitamin D so that was my problem.

    Anyway… that was an interesting thing I learned about vitamin D from my doctor.

  • Elizabeth B

    Well. I guess my pasty white legs get to stay pasty white. And also dammit, I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics very closely on the new Radiohead album yet, but now I’m looking up lyrics while I listen to it, and wow it really is kind of dark. I probably shouldn’t listen to it when I’m depressed either but I will anyway. I love me some Radiohead. Isn’t Tom Yorke’s voice the most relaxing and awesome thing you’ve ever heard? Yes, yes it is.

    Seriously though, thanks for the info; I had no idea most sunscreens had bad stuff in them. I hardly ever use it because I’m like the most indoor person ever, but I will pass it along.

  • Suzanne

    This is interesting – there was someone at the gym who I work out with who they thought may have leukemia and it turned out to be a vitamin D deficiency.

  • Michele Behnke-Nead

    You have “safety” spelled wrong in two of the EWG videos in the opening and ending credits. Is there a good product for protecting my scalp that won’t make my hair look greasy? Hats don’t tend to stay on when I’m at the water park with my kids.

  • Heather Armstrong

    It’s probably psychosomatic, but here on day four or five of taking a whopping dose of vitamin D, I feel sooooo much better. Leukemia, wow. That is interesting.

  • Heather Armstrong

    I let them know, thanks for catching that! As for protecting your scalp… I’ll have to ask. I usually keep my hat on and don’t go underwater. But if you’re going underwater, hmm…

  • http://www.creakygeek.com/ Jan

    I am naturally pale (read: fish-belly white) so, when I lived in the Keys for 12 years, I was a fiend about applying sunscreen, especially BullFrog if I was going to be in the water. Later I move back to TN (hi! but not Bartlett) and a few years ago, I started getting these *things* in weird places. The dermatologist said they were something-something keratoses – not cancer, but still something you don’t want hanging around. I had them on my scalp (crown and back), on my nose, and even one of my eyelid. Fetching! The ones in the scalp had to be removed and biopsied to be sure (all OK), and thank goodness removing the ones on my face was simple and painless and left no scar. I whined about having been so diligent with sunscreen, and her counter was, “Did you rub it into your scalp? Did you smear it across your eyelids?” She wasn’t scolding, just making a point.
    Now I’m in the vitamin D deficiency club. Do we get t-shirts? “D is for Diva! D is for Drama!” I get very little sunlight because (1) I work indoors all day and (2) I don’t like roasting in the sun unless there’s an ocean at my toes. I’m also diabetic and when my D level came back in the basement, my endo put me on a prescription strength supplement to protect my kidneys (as well as my bones because I am old). It’s easy to take and amazingly inexpensive at the pharmacy. And it’s pretty. Looks like a little football made out of emerald.

  • PrimeKids

    SUPER important info. Thanks for your thoughts here, and way to go on your brand and blog. You are killing it. #Sunscreenup

  • Alicia Perkins Russo

    Not psychosomatic at all…Vitamin D deficiency is common in women of a certain age (apparently, my age (ish)). I was feeling run down (like, could barely bring myself to get out of bed) and my doctor did blood work and found I had almost none – and I’m outdoors plenty. Started taking 2,000 mg daily and like magic, I felt 100% better!

  • Suzanne

    Not surprised – the change in my gym mate has been shocking. From someone who had to stop attending to back better than they were before. When his wife told me the final results after hearing all of the things it could have been, I was floored

  • wh0oznicole

    I also have a vitamin D deficiency, which started when I moved to the US from the Philippines. I take vitamin D supplements. I’ve only had sunburn a couple of times in my life. Even though I rarely get burned because even though I have enough melanin in my skin, I still wear sunscreen because skin cancer does not discriminate.

  • KathyB

    Back in the 80′s when the ozone hole was growing, Australia had a famous Slip Slap Slop campaign to help prevent skin cancer. Slip on sunglasses, Slap on a hat, Slop on sunscreen. I think that is a correct memory, but maybe not. My biggest memory was that there were blind bunny rabbits there from the mega doses of nasty rays. If memory serves at least the ozone shield has repaired itself with discontinuance of aerosols. Humans are capable of positive change, sometimes.

    Vitamin D is a staple for women my age. Many pluses.

    Be good to yourself, Heather. Grieving for the noisy presence of Marlo and serenity of Leta makes you weary also. Do I think you are capable of starting that process months early. Why, yes, yes I do. Listen to anything you damn well please, but please try not to beat yourself up.

    Always in your corner

  • Kelly B

    When I first heard you talk about being tired all the time, I wondered if it was a Vitamin D or B12 deficiency — B12 deficiency is especially not fun especially mixed with SAD. I’ve had both at one time or another because I believe in trying new ways to have zero energy.

    Glad you got a diagnosis I know how frustrating not knowing why you are so tired can be.

  • christine

    Dude, don’t knock it — the placebo effect ROCKS. Likely more effective than most traditional medicine treatments, like vitamin supplements. Enjoy it. :)

  • http://jonbeckett.com Jonathan

    I had a similar upbringing to you – running around half naked all summer, brown as a berry by the time we went back to school in the autumn. And now we have our own kids, we throw hats, long shirts, and factor 50 cream on them… go figure.

  • Melissa Newberry

    I love this post! How do you combat the teenage girl rhetoric of “I’m so pale” or “I can’t wait to tan” or “I can’t wear too much sunscreen or I won’t get tan”? I was the same way as a kid but it’s really hard to get the thoughts out of their head that their skin needs to be a different color.

  • http://wscheryl.tumblr.com/ Cheryl

    I grew up in a place (and time) where laying in the sun slathered in baby oil (or Bain de Soleil orange gelee SPF 4) was all the rage. You know, Southern CA in the 1970′s and early 80′s. Thankfully, around 1979 I decided to become a hardcore punk, which meant forgoing the sun at all costs.

    Now I live in a place where seeing the sun is such a rare occurrence that I literally have to ask “WHAT IS THAT BRIGHT GLOBE IN THE SKY? MAKE IT STOP! IT BURNS!”

    Taking a Vit D supplement is pretty much de rigueur here, but didn’t know until fairly recently that if one has thyroid disease (which I do), one is likely even more deficient than the usual run of the mill pasty white PNW’ers that I rub my long sleeve covered elbows with. Also, having thyroid disease makes it harder for my body to *absorb* Vit D. Who knew?

    So in the winter I take up to 10,000 IU’s of the stuff a day. And in the summer, 5,000 IU’s. My 10 year old daughter gets 1,000 IU’s daily. We ain’t playing!

    Anyway, I dunno if it’ll help w/ your bouts of depression Heather, but it definitely has helped with mine (+ an antidepressant and therapy when I can afford it)… because I’m sure as sh*t not going out into the sun. Ewwwwwwwww!

  • mjbutah

    Pasty Women Unite! We should form a club and have meetings. Indoors of course.
    Struggling a lot lately myself, although I noticed that since getting my dog back from my ex’s house (he’s been there since October) and being forced to get out and you know, actually get exercise and walk the dog it has made a little difference in my mood. Thanks for reminding me that I need to refill the Vitamin D as well and quit bursting into tears at random things. (Wilco does it for me EVERY TIME so I can almost be glad I missed the ticket sale at Red Butte and I don’t get to go to the concert AGAIN. Almost)