The Sunshine Vitamin (D)
In today’s world most of us don’t have the time or feel it necessary to be in sunlight. One of the main reasons for deficiency of vitamin D is the changing lifestyle that has reduced the amount of time people spend in the sun. Most of the time we are behind closed doors either in office or at home. It is one of the reasons we are falling short of Vitamin D in our body, as sunlight is the most important source of Vitamin-D. A lot of researches have been done in this field. It has been found out that 80 per cent of Indians are deficient of this vitamin. Most of us do not realise the consequences of this deficiency.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D belongs to a group of fat soluble vitamins, the absorption of which enhances the calcium and phosphate in the body. This vitamin melts in fat and gets stored in the fat cells and comes to the rescue when the body needs it. It helps absorb calcium in our body and helps strengthen our bones. The amount of Vitamin D in our body can be determined a by laboratory test.
A healthy person should have 20 to 50 ml Vitamin D. If the intake is more than 50, it leads to severe health problems and if less than 20, it leads to deficiency and in both the cases, medical advice should be taken. 0ld persons above 65 years and pregnant women are prone to this deficiency. In pregnant women, low content of this vitamin may lead to unusual growth of the fetes and obesity. Children above six months and up to five years may have this deficiency.
Why we need Vitamin D
■ It plays a major role in disease fighting. The deficiency of this Vitamin causes a deadly disease in children called rickets.
■ Vitamin D is needed to absorb the calcium which we take in food. If there is less Vitamin D in the body, bones will become weak and may cause fractures.
■ In order to have calcium and proteins we need to have sufficient Vitamin D in our body. Decrease in calcium and proteins leads to joint pains, softness of bones, liver problems, asthma, diabetes, digestive problems, cardiac problems, TB, hypertension, ineffective disease fighting cells, muscle pain and temporary loss of memory. This may also cause cancer, obesity and early aging and hardening of veins.
Causes for reduction in levels of Vitamin D
■ We usually do not take enough of Vitamin D from the sun. Fearing skin diseases many of us use a number of lotions and creams to avoid the sunrays and spend most of the time indoors.
■ People with dark complexion contain melanin in their skin which decreases their ability to produce Vitamin D in their body.
■ As a person ages the kidneys do not function efficienciently in the usage of Vitamin D.
■ Obesity also decreases the level of Vitamin D in the body. If the Body Mass Index is 30 or more then it may lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
How to enhance Vitamin D levels
■ Milk, dairy products, fruit juice, lentils, eggs, liver, catfish, mackerel, solmon, tuna fish, goat milk, butter, ghee, egg yolk are good sources of Vitamin D.
■ One should be in the sun early in the morning for about 10 to 15 minutes at least twice a week.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna