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Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for one’s health and well being. It’s a bunch of fat-soluble secosteroids which helps the body enhancing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate. Like other vitamins or minerals, we get vitamin D only from dairy products and no other source. So mostly its either prepared by our body or when we expose to sunlight. Hence, sunlight is the direct source of vitamin d and that’s why it’s called Sunshine Vitamin.
Vitamin D is of two types:
1. D2 – known as Ergocalciferol which we get from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements.
2. D3 – known as Cholecalciferol, we get again from fortified foods, non-veg sources like fish, eggs, liver. Internally produced when our body is exposed to sunlight.
How Much Body Gets The Vitamin D from Sunlight?
The UV rays in the sunlight are responsible for converting Cholesterol in our skin into Vitamin D. All you need to do is to sit under the sun before 9 am in the morning as our skin needs are some exposure to sunlight.
Deficiencies In Vitamin D:
It’s been estimated that in the world around 1 billion people are deficient of Vitamin D in their blood. A person with dark skin or a person who is obese or overweight tends to be deficient of Vitamin D. You can get the Vitamin D test done very easily, its just that you need to go for a blood test. It’s prominent to know about the optimal levels and deficient levels.
Why Vitamin D Is Caused?
Of course, less amount of vitamin d in the body is responsible which causes vitamin d deficiency. Major deficiencies are listed below:
1. Very Limited Exposure To Sunlight: As already discussed, sunlight is a major source for vitamin d. People who are just inside their homes or offices (indoors) get no sunlight. Sometimes, sunscreen helps to give you UV exposure, but you need to consult a Dermatologist before you start any sunscreen as everybody’s skin is different.
2. Inadequate Consumption Of Vitamin D: People who are vegans are deficient of Vitamin D. Definitely, the natural foods would not make sufficiency of Vitamin D in our body but yes there would be an improvement but need to expose to sunlight for better results.
3. Obesity: A study was done on a person who is overweight or obese and it resulted that those with high BMI i.e. above 40 would definitely be deficient of vitamin d. This is due to vitamin d gets extracted from the blood by fat cells.
4. Mal Absorption: Certain people suffer from this syndrome. This just means that their digestive tract cannot absorb vitamin d.
Diseases Caused Due To Vitamin D Deficiency:
1. Osteomalacia: Extreme severe deficiency of vitamin d could be called as Osteomalacia too. Characterized by bowing of legs, softening of bones, muscle weakness, increased risk of fractures, leading to bending of spines. People who are suffering from Osteomalacia have difficulty walking or climbing stairs or couldn’t get up properly from the floor.
2. Cardiovascular Disease: Deficiency of vitamin d is associated with congestive heart failure. Women with low levels had a 67% increased risk of developing hypertension, research was done at Harvard University.
3. Psoriasis: Deficiency of vitamin d is associated with a high risk of Psoriasis.
Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency:
The deficiency shouldn’t be taken lightly as it leads to several health issues. Get enough sunlight or could be taken in the form of supplements which should be prescribed from your Physician.
1. Get Good Sunlight: Exposure to sunlight is a natural way of treating the deficiency. It’s naturally produced by our bodies on exposure to sunlight. So better to get exposure to sunlight as its cost effective also.
2. Consume Foods Containing Vitamin D: Vitamin d is not found in foods like other vitamins but there are few foods which contain vitamin d in little amounts like
• Oily fish like sardines, tuna, salmon and herring
• Fortified foods with added vitamin d like margarine, infant formula milk
• Dairy products and eggs
3. Injection: An injection of vitamin d lasts for some 6 months, it’s safe to use. To the ones who have very very low levels of Vitamin D they can go for injections but only if their Physician recommends.
4. Supplements: Supplements in the form of liquids or tablets are easily available and depending on your levels this could be taken daily, weekly or monthly. However, it’s always advisable to consult your Physician after getting the tests done and so you can follow the instructions properly.
5. Maintenance Therapy: Maintenance treatment is needed on a long term basis just to avoid deficiency in future, even the body stores vitamin D.
Do consult a Physician or a Dietitian before you take any supplement. And now you know the importance of sunshine vitamin make sure you follow the instructions. We need a little bit of sunshine in our lie, after all! Take Care.