Keep your face towards the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.
Most living things require sunlight for a healthy existence. With a lifestyle that keeps us indoors most of the time, almost no one gets a healthy dose of sun exposure. Besides mostly staying indoors; sedentary jobs, stress, and unhealthy dietary choices don’t help either. This not only acts as a precursor to several lifestyle diseases but also leads to a deficiency of Vitamin D (or Vitamin D3) in our body – a lesser-known risk factor.
Vitamin D deficiency, also termed as a new menace, can hollow out our bones. Commonly experienced symptoms of this deficiency such as unexplained body aches and frequent muscular injuries do not show up until much later when the damage has already been done.
Importance of Vitamin D
The benefits of Vitamin D are not just limited to keeping healthy bones and muscles but also in regulating our immune system and in disease prevention. It some cases, it has shown to strongly inhibit the growth of cancer cells as well.
Understanding Vitamin D
UV rays (sunlight) reacts with cholesterol on our skin to produce Vitamin D. It, then passes through the liver and kidneys and becomes “active” Vitamin D3 without which our body cannot absorb calcium. This calcium keeps our bones and muscles healthier.
DID YOU KNOW?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone produced by your body as you are exposed to sunlight.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
A huge concern here is that initial signs of deficiency could easily be missed since they are not prominent or distinct. Though, if any of the below symptoms are experienced, the level of Vitamin D should be tested.
- General Fatigue and Muscular pain: Inability to perform daily activities because of eternal tiredness or experiencing muscular pains affecting the entire body (mostly in the lower limbs and around hips.
- Pain in the bones or brittle bones: Vitamin D helps maintain the calcium levels in our blood. Due to its deficient levels, calcium dissolves from our bones and can eventually lead to Osteoporosis – a condition where bones become brittle, fragile & prone to fractures.
- Frequent mood swings & sleep disturbances: Vitamin D regulates the feel-good neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Its deficiency can lead to low and depressed mood.
- Digestive problems: It can result in poor digestion, like constipation, bloating sensation or inflammatory bowel disease.
A specific blood work for Vitamin D test can be performed, It is measured in ng/ml which stands for nanogram/ml. Specific symptoms on the deficiency cannot be predicted since different people experience different symptoms at different levels of Vitamin D. For example, severely deficient patients sometimes have no symptoms at all unless they have a trauma and fracture.
|BLOOD TEST FOR VITAMIN D||(in ng/ml)|
Overcome Vitamin D deficiency
You can get Vitamin D either through direct sunlight, through diet or through supplements.
- Don’t be “Sun-Shy”: The best way to increase Vitamin D levels is an exposure to the sun. A sensible sun exposure is advised for 2 hours between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm at least 3 times a week.
- Diet sources of Vitamin D: Oily fish, meat, eggs, vegetarian sources rich in Vitamin D are fortified whole grain cereals (wheat, barley, oatmeal, brown rice), mushrooms, tofu and other soy foods, dairy products (whole milk, buttermilk) or dairy alternatives (almond, soy milk)
- Oral Vitamin D supplementation: Fulfilling the Vitamin D requirements through direct sunlight and diet should always be the number #1 priority but certain medical conditions/allergies or severe Vitamin D deficiency may require you to use supplements for a specified period of time. Please consult a doctor to learn more.