The Sunshine Vitamin – Vitamin D. Are you having enough of it?
Have you wondered why people whose calcium levels and calcium intake is good still have low bone density? The reason may be lack of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which helps the body to absorb calcium. So, even if your calcium intake is good but Vitamin D is insufficient, you are prone to weak and brittle bones. Vitamin D deficiency leads to Rickets in children and Osteoporosis in adults.
Is healthy eating habit good enough for sufficient Vitamin D?
Unlike other vitamins (which can be acquired through diet and supplement), our body is capable of producing own Vitamin D, through the action of sunlight on our skin. Our body makes vitamin D when it is directly exposed to the sun (which means, without any barrier creams or sunscreen). This is why it is also called 'Sunshine Vitamin'.
Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. As a result, many foods are fortified with Vitamin D. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel are among the best sources of the vitamin. There is a small amount of vitamin D found in egg yolk, cheese and beef liver. For vegetarians, mushrooms maybe the only natural edible source of vitamin D. Some mushrooms may have a higher amount of Vitamin D due to their exposure to ultra violet light. A lot of breakfast cereals and milk supplements are fortified with Vitamin D.
The most important source is therefore the sunlight. However, there is a debate on how much of sun exposure is good for skin. Too much of exposure to sun may also lead to skin problems. On an average, 10-15 minutes of sun, three to four times a week, should be beneficial.
Vitamin D deficiency is termed as next biggest epidemic in India with more than 80% of Indians having less than sufficient Vitamin D levels. This is surprising given that India has relatively large number of good Sunshine days as compared to European and American countries. Therefore, doctors advise Vitamin D supplements as Indians are not getting enough Sunshine Vitamin from sun exposure.
My friend is 35 years and is suffering from Joint & Body Pain. Could this be due to Vitamin D deficiency?
Yes, absolutely. Vitamin D helps in strengthening of Joints and Muscles. Deficiency of Vitamin D may cause series of health issues like aches, pains & fatigue. Actually Vitamin D deficiency slows down calcium incorporation in body resulting in aching bones. Vitamin D also affects immune cells. Consequently, Vitamin D deficiency leads to lower immunity and higher susceptibility to flu. High blood pressure and depression are also linked to Vitamin D deficiency.
I spend enough time in Sun still my Vitamin D was less than normal. Why?
Since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means that it doesn't dissolve in water and having an adequate amount of healthy fats is necessary for its absorption. One must include good quality fats like unsalted butter, olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil. Massage oil, which helps in absorption of vitamin D, through sunlight, may also be beneficial.
In Ayurveda, there are many herbs and oils which reduce inflammation of the joints and bones, which is the common result of Vitamin D deficiency. One such oil is Laksha (Laccifer Lacca). It is recommended to massage with this oil to get relief from muscle ache and joint pain. It also makes bones stronger and helps to regain natural bone and mineral density. Bala (Sida Cordifolia), a weed that grows in wild, is also helpful in strengthening of bones, muscles and joints.
So, while getting out in the sun is essential for a strong skeleton, massaging it regularly with Bala or Laksha will make it stronger.
I cant seem to find enough time to spend outdoor? Or my Skin cracks on exposure to Sun
Pardon us for saying this but some of these reasons for not getting enough Sun are sheer lame excuses arising due to inertia or laziness. Get your butt out and soak in early morning Sun which would not only help to get enough Vitamin D but also improve overall health in terms of lifestyle diseases. Use Sunscreen or wake up 30 min earlier or find other creative yet simple solution to seemingly difficult excuses and you will explore and figure out a new YOU in yourself:)