The Sunshine Vitamin - Vitamin D
Vitamin D is called the sunshine Vitamin as it is produced in the human body when our skin on the face, arms, hands or back are exposed to sunlight directly (without the presence of sunscreen on the skin and without a glass window in between the sun and our skin). An exposure of our skin to sunlight for 20 minutes even twice a week can help to improve the levels of Vitamin D in our body.
This Vitamin D is very important for us as it is very strongly responsible for proper absorption and utilization of calcium into our bones and muscles. Vitamin D helps to produce hormones responsible for regulating the bodyís calcium levels which promote proper bone growth and maintenance.
The most familiar symptoms of inadequate Vitamin D are soft bone disorders which are called rickets in children, osteomalacia in adults and osteoporosis in elderly people. This can lead to crippling deformations, easier bone fractures and diminished bone density. Besides this we may see ligament injuries and joint damages as well.
There are other possible complications or diseases that may have a link to Vitamin D deficiency. These include
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Periodontal disease (disease of the gums)
- Increased risk of Cancer
Other deficiency symptoms may include
- Low blood calcium levels
- Chronic bone, muscle or joint pain
- Muscle cramps and weakness
- Stooped posture and loss of height
- Chronic fatigue
- Bowed limbs, knocked kneed appearance and flat feet.
While one or two of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate a Vitamin D deficiency, ongoing symptoms coupled with an indoor lifestyle and a personal or family history of osteoporosis or other bone disorders could indicate poor nutrient concentrations. Individuals who suspect a Vitamin D deficiency should seek a professional medical consultation including a blood test to confirm any nutritional problems. It is also observed that those suffering from Thyroid problems are more prone to developing Vitamin D deficiency so we recommend that those who are on Thyroid gland treatment should get their blood Vitamin D and Calcium levels tested.
Fortunately, a lack of Vitamin D is easily corrected once it is properly diagnosed and appropriately treated. Increasing sun exposure even a few minutes each day can dramatically improve deficiency symptoms, and individuals can also adjust their diets to include more foods rich in Vitamin D to compensate.
Sources of Vitamin D
Fish like Cod fish, Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel and Sardines are rich sources of Vitamin D. Besides this egg yolk, liver and beef are also good sources. Some types of cheese and butter also contain Vitamin D. Looking at this above list it is easy to conclude that vegetarians could be highly prone to Vitamin D deficiency and if you are seeing some of the above symptoms please do get a blood test done and take the necessary supplementation.
In the 1930ís a Vitamin D deficiency disease called rickets was a major public health problem in U.S.A so a milk fortification program was implemented. Now world over milk is fortified with Vitamin D. So a good daily source would be to drink at least 2 glasses of milk or curd every day.