The most important Vitamin you nee-D!

Last Modified: September 13, 2019  |   Created on: March 22, 2019
General Health

There is a trending Vitamin D crisis that is going on these days amongst the world’s population and it arises an immense need to focus on the D.  Popularly known as sunshine vitamin, it decidedly ranks high on the list of deficiencies on a global level.

Vit-D-Capsules

What’s so important about it?

Vitamin D is one of the four fat soluble vitamins needed by us and works on a number of important factors in our body. It not only plays a significant role in maintain bone density, bone mineralization, muscular strength, immune function, but also for regulation of other biomolecules and regulatory genes. 

So deficiency of Vitamin D can cause health problems related of bones such as Osteoporosis, osteomalacia (fragile bones), muscular pain, reduced immunity and neuromuscular functions. Vitamin D has also been linked to cancer, inflammatory disorders, diabetes, dementia, bone disorders and many other disorders. The deficiency is also the cause of rickets which is softening of bone in children due to poor bone health.  The low levels of vitamin D are also associated with stress fractures and sports injuries in active people. 

Therefore, it is very important to get tested for vitamin D levels if haven’t already and it is equally important to optimize the levels if required!

The deficiency can arise in anyone and one must get tested for it through a simple blood test – 25(OH) D test. The symptoms associated with sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D in blood are:

  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Bone Loss
  • Impaired Wound Healing
  • Bone and Back Pain
  • Low Immunity
  • Mood changes or Depression
  • Hair Loss

Who should particularly look out for Vitamin D deficiency?

  • Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers 
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Patients of chronic kidney disease and parathyroid disease
  • History of long-term steroids usage
  • Elderly people who are bed-ridden or home-bound

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Where to get it from?

  • Vitamin D popularly known as sunshine vitamin as its major source is sunlight exposure. The ultraviolet rays, specifically, UV-B in the sunlight stimulates the synthesis of Vitamin D3 in our body and then liver and kidney convert it to metabolically active form. This also depends on factors like season of the year, geographical location, age, skin pigmentation, amount of skin exposed, and use of clothing and sunscreen. Receiving direct sunlight, which means direct exposure of the skin to sunlight and not through window as glass prevent UV. One has to be under the sun for at least 10-15 min for light skinned individuals and 20-25 min for dark skin tones as the absorption of sunlight is less in them. The best time is considered to be between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. should be sufficient to make the required amount. Another important thing to keep in mind here is to too much sunlight exposure won’t cause over-abundance of Vitamin D in your body as there is a feedback mechanism to regulate it and excess is stored in another form, maintaining the optimum level (Holick, 1995). But excess of sunlight, particularly UV can cause skin burns and skin cancer, so it is critical to keep that in mind to keep this in mind too and use clothing or sunscreen beyond a point. 

  • Vitamin D exists in five forms – D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. The most well-known and easily absorb-able form is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which can be obtained from food items like fish, egg yolks, and cheese. Another of the known form is vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), can be found in mushrooms, and fortified foods like milk and cereals.

  • With the lifestyle most of are living, it is not so easy to get enough sunlight throughout the day. But there is solution for this as well- Supplements. Vitamin D supplements are mostly in the form of vitamin D3 as it is more easily absorbed and are recommended in case of deficiency. Usually the recommended level is 600 – 2,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day and no more than 4,000 IUs should be taken as there are normally no adverse effects below this range. 

Note:

Excess consumption of supplements can cause Vitamin D toxicity which is the highly increased level of this vitamin in blood. This can lead to hypercalecimia which is the increment of calcium levels in blood and associated with symptoms like nausea, weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue, frequent urination and disorientation.

Dr. Suneet Singh

Written By Dr. Suneet Singh

Dr. Suneet is a dentist-turned-Hospital Administrator with rich experience in the field of operation management and Public Health Administration. Formerly a dentist, Dr. Suneet holds a post-graduate degree in Hospital and Healthcare management from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)

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