Vitamin D the Sunshine vitamin…
In recent times, there has been a lot of information floating around about protecting our skin from direct sunlight as it might help in reducing the risk of skin cancer risk. Without direct sun exposure, our bodies cannot adequately manufacture vitamin D and it can lead to vitamin D deficiency. A large population suffers from this deficiency and it can often consequence in fatigue, rickets in children, osteomalacia and osteopenia in adults and elderly.
Vit D balances the level of phosphorus and calcium in the blood. Vit D is responsible for the absorption of phosphorus and calcium. Low levels of Vitamin D leads to a deficiency of calcium and phosphorus which in turn makes the bone brittle and weak.
Our body naturally produces Vit D when exposed to sunlight as it can convert inactive Vit D to active 25-hydroxyvitamin D, but still about 50 % population choose to stay indoors and avoid sunlight completely, also Vit D through diet is not very readily available, making it more difficult for people living in cold areas to avoid this deficiency.
Liver health also plays a major role in maintaining Vit D levels in the blood. Vit D whether it comes from sunlight or taken as food or supplement, it goes first into the liver. Liver changes it to 25(OH) D, this chemical is circulated all over the body where different tissues turn it into activated form. Now this activated vitamin D is ready to perform all its functions.
Following are a few symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:
- Low immunity
- Impaired wound healing
- Weak bones and joint pains
- Depression and hair loss in some cases
To check if you have vitamin D deficiency you can get it done through a blood test. Ideally, Vit D levels should be between 25-80 ng/dl and anything below that is considered to be a deficiency.
How to manage Vitamin D deficiency:
Spend 20-30 minutes in the sun 3-4 times in a week to defeat the Vitamin D deficiency. This can be clubbed by a morning walk or going out for a few minutes.
Make sure to include Vitamin D rich foods like mushroom, fish, egg yolk and fortified cereals in your diet.
In case the vitamin levels in the body are still low, turning to Vitamin D supplements is still an option. However, this must be done only after consulting with the doctor.
Liver detoxification also plays a major role in maintaining optimal levels of Vitamin D. Silymarin (Milk thistle) helps to maintain good liver health.
The recommended Vitamin D intake through diet for an adult is 400-800 IU/ day.
Dairy is considered to be on of the best dietary sources of Vitamin D but there are a lot of people who cannot consume dairy but still can get the required Vit D through other dietary sources such as:
- Meat: Red meat and poultry contain vitamin D and organ meat is probably a good source to boost intake of this essential vitamin.
- Mushrooms: A few varieties of mushroom are the only plant sources of Vitamin D. They are similar to humans, mushrooms synthesize the vitamin when exposed to sunlight.
- Fish: Many fishes have this vitamin, the more oily or fatty fish are likely to contain more Vitamin D than the less oily ones. Salmon, trout, mackerel, and tuna are amongst the most popular fish that are the richest source of this vitamin.
- Eggs: The yolk of the egg also contains Vitamin D, just like other vitamin and minerals.
- Fortified Foods: Natural food sources have very less amount of vitamin D. However, certain foods are fortified with this nutrient. Various foods and beverages are fortified with vitamin D such as milk, cereal, yoghurt, cheese and oatmeal are also a good source of Vitamin D.