A Lesson Learned from My Dog

I have the privilege of working from my home, which some may know, has its ups and downs. One of the ups was that I was able to bring my dogs to work with me every day. My little Chihuahua, who just passed away last week, would always find a sunny spot on the rug to sleep, even if it was just the tiniest sliver of sun peeking through the blinds in the corner. She was definitely on to something.

Did you ever notice most people are happier in the summer? Of course I like the change of seasons but I am always more energetic and happier in the summer months.

A few weeks ago, I was traveling for work, as I was walking to my next flight I received the email that no one wants when traveling, “Your flight has been cancelled” Ahhhh, seriously, 10 minutes before boarding! Nevertheless, I was lucky enough to get on the next flight but it was 5 hours away. I wandered around the dark airport shopping for the next 5 hours, in a fairly bad mood, but trying to keep a positive attitude because at least I was still able to get to my destination that day. I finally made it to my gate and low and behold it was under a large window in the ceiling allowing the sun to shine through. Instantly, I noticed my mood change, I was happier, I had a better outlook on everything, sounds strange, but it’s true.

So how does sunlight relate to diabetes? We naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight but most people just don’t get enough, which means most of us have below normal vitamin D levels.

In 2010 there was a study done about the correlation between type 2 diabetes control and vitamin D deficiency. It showed that the average A1c was higher in those with a more severe vitamin D deficiency. (Esther Krug 2010)

Vitamin D is essential to our health. It has many benefits, In addition to making us happier; it also improves insulin sensitivity which lowers blood glucose levels. It increases our immune response, making our bodies more capable of fighting off colds and infection and it reduces systemic chronic inflammation (just to name a few).

So I guess my dog knew what she was doing, she did live for 15 years. If sunlight is available, enjoy the benefits by spending 10-15 minutes in the sun daily, don’t let yourself burn of course. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to get your daily dose of vitamin D. If anything, it will make you happier. 

So sorry you lost your furry friend.

Vitamin D is vital for a long list of reasons, several of which you mention. It is widely conceded that something like three-fourths of Americans -- in fact of all people in the developed world -- are deficient in Vitamin D. So it behooves a prudent person to get their vitamin D level tested and, if necessary, do what's necessary to get and stay in the normal range. The health benefits are almost too numerous to list.

Sorry for your loss, but somehow I suspect he had a wonderful life.

As a long time resident of the Sunshine State, I'd have to disagree with your statement "Did you ever notice most people are happier in the summer?". Many of us look forward, very much, to 'Winter'. In Florida that's just Summer 'Lite' with less rain. :-)

to brboyer, funny, I actually lived in Tampa for 9 years, my husband made me move back to PA because he missed the seasons and winter (what?) so I did and now after 2 winters here, we want to move back. But I know what you mean about the sun and heat getting old. I guess the grass is always greener right? I am just going to try to look for the positives in wherever I'm living, but I do know that when I see the sun, I am happier :)

LOL. I guess it's all based on your individual point of view. I grew up in a hot, dry desert and there isn't enough money on the planet to make me live there ever again. Now I live in a place that does have clear, distinct seasons and I wouldn't give it up for anything or anyone.

Different strokes . . . LOL

Same here, Eucritta. The "in-between" seasons are my favorites.

Agree I love fall and spring, but not so much when the sun isn’t out. I can handle winter and snow in dec and jan, but that’s about it. I think I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder as well.

It's a very individual thing. Some people find gray skies depressing. I mean, for real, as in clinical depression. Personally I find them invigorating. Diff'rent strokes, etc.

LOL. I grew up in So Cal, now I live in the Willamette Valley and wouldn't trade for anything. I have a secret theory that everyone is attracted to the opposite of what they began with . . . LOL ;-)

Oh, well, every theory has its exceptions . . . for a child growing up in the 50s, California was a wonderful place, almost magic. Now . . . I can hardly recognize it at all. :-(

What a great post. My cats have taught me the same lesson many times. I'm sorry for your loss. Furry friends enrich our lives in so many ways.

I, too, love the transitional seasons most. Summer when it is the zone of low 70s is fine, but hot weather messes with my body in many ways---high blood sugar numbers, higher than normal BP, edema, etc. I grew up in Minnesota, so it took me awhile to adjust to what the seasons are in Oregon, but once I got it, it felt right. The tail end of winter is at times difficult, but it was in MN, to. I remember when I was teaching at a boarding school in southern MN, we had special notice to watch for warnings of potential suicides in March!

An interesting aside on the need for Vit D: I studied up on such things obsessively 7 years ago when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. And so I added supplementation because our winters are so grey. Well, 2 years ago, my labs came back showing toxic levels of Vit D---I didn't think that was possible! So be sure they include a look at your levels in routine labs!......Judith in Portland

Hi Judith :)

Well, your experience demonstrates (again) that it just isn't safe to guess what's going on based on how you feel. There's just no substitute for actual testing. When I became suspicious about my vitamin D, I marched straight in to my doc and said, "Please order a lab test so we can check this." He did, and it came back 'way low. So I started supplementing at the rate of 2000 units a day. Tested again. Little or no improvement. So we upped it to 5000 units. Slight improvement, but still subnormal. So we bumped it again, to 10,000. That got it into the normal range, and it's remained there for 2 quarters now.