Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for all of us, and the best source for it is right under the sun. A combined study at the Boston Medical Centre and Mahidol University has shown that 70% of South Asians show a vitamin D deficiency. Researchers suggested that this deficiency is becoming a bigger problem for the younger generation, which needs to dealt with urgently. It is a cause for concern among Indians because we overlook the need for sun exposure, as we receive plentiful sunshine.
What does vitamin D do in the body?
Vitamin D is essential for bone metabolism, maintaining bone health and muscle function. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. The family of vitamin D includes vitamins D1, D2, and D3, which can affect approximately 2,000 genes in the body. The vitamin controls the levels of calcium and phosphate in the body, essential for keeping our teeth and bones healthy.
Without vitamin D the body fails to absorb essential amounts of calcium and phosphate. In children, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. Rickets can cause bones to become deformed, tender and painful. Vitamin D is found in oily fish, shrimp, eggs and fortified cereals, yoghurt or powdered milk.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symtoms
- Fractures or Bone Softening
- Fatigue or Generalized Weakness
- Cramps and Weakness of Muscles
- Weight Gain
- Joint Pain
- Low Immunity
- Blood Sugar Problems
- Changes in Mood and Irritability
- Low Levels of Calcium in the Blood
Catch some rays in the sun
Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is produced by your skin in response to sunlight. Physicians recommend spending at least 15 minutes unprotected (without sunscreen) in the sun every few days, to get the necessary dose of vitamin D. Too much exposure to sunlight can increase your chances of skin cancer, so it is necessary to limit your sunlight dosage.
If you are wondering whether you have this deficiency, get in touch with a doctor. The doctor will prescribe a vitamin D3 test, which will measure the levels of the vitamin in your blood. If the test comes back with low figures, below 50 ng/mL then you will be classified as deficient. If the figure falls below 20 ng/mL then this is considered a serious deficiency state.