Get lots of sun, docs advise always-tired Senator Santiago

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago needs to get out in the sun more to cure her Vitamin D deficiency that according to her doctors could be the cause of her chronic fatigue syndrome.

Santiago will miss the opening of the 16th Congress on Monday because of the syndrome, a condition that causes debilitating tiredness and which has kept her at home for most of the last six months.


In a statement, Santiago said she expected to be back to normal soon after her team of doctors—both at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and her medical team in Manila—suggested she undergo a blood test for Vitamin D.

The test taken at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City showed that while the normal level for Vitamin D is 30 to 80 units, Santiago only has 17 units.


The early morning sunshine is known to be a rich source of Vitamin D that makes a person’s bones strong.

The senator, however, is expected to take a “megadose”— some 2,000 units daily—of Vitamin D to remedy her deficiency and, hopefully, her chronic fatigue syndrome as well.

“I want to share this information with the millions of Filipinos suffering from chronic fatigue because in our country, Vitamin D deficiency is often overlooked,” Santiago said.

She said the deficiency could also have triggered her hypertension, as shown at the 2012 annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics.

The European study examined the causal relationship between Vitamin D status and high cholesterol, from which Santiago also suffers.

Santiago said the link between Vitamin D deficiency on the one hand, and chronic fatigue and hypertension on the other, was first broached in 2009 by research doctors such as Dr. Anna Dorothea Hock of Cologne, Germany.

“Vitamin D deficiency is a hidden disorder of high frequency,” Santiago quoted the German doctor as saying.


Following the paper published by Hock, a medical team led by a Dr. Berkovitz of University College London published a study in the 2012 International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research recommending that “all patients with moderate to severe chronic fatigue syndrome should be encouraged to have sufficient sun exposure and take foods high in Vitamin D.”

Santiago, over the years, has gone on medical leave from her jobs as immigration commissioner and as a senator because of chronic fatigue.

When Congress adjourned for the campaign break in January, Santiago consulted, among others, Dr. Bojan Cercek, director of the cardiac intensive care unit, Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

According to Santiago’s staff, Cercek said her blood deficiency was not sufficient to account for her chronic fatigue. The American doctor suggested she consult a neurologist and a rheumatologist in the Philippines.

Santiago’s doctors in Manila suggested a test for Vitamin D, which has been increasingly linked in recent medical studies to chronic fatigue, hypertension and high cholesterol.

The laboratory results showed that Santiago’s Vitamin D level was very low and she is expected to take a megadose of Vitamin D for several weeks. A megadose will consist of 2,000 units daily.

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TAGS: 16th Congress, chronic fatigue syndrome, Mirian Defensor-Santiago, Senator Santiago, St. Lukes Medical Center, Vitamin D deficiency
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