Bones like butter, so soft that a soft press can leave a dent. So fragile that even an innocent twist can lead to a mighty fall. The bones are so brittle that even the slightest bend can lead to the snapping of the spine. This doesn’t happen to all but only to those who don’t get enough of D.
Do you get enough of D? Vitamin D is one such vitamin that we all take for granted. We assume that since there’s plenty of sunlight, we are all well-nourished with the sunshine vitamin. But, guess what? We could be wrong. In the last few years, when the world was developing medicines for anemia, scurvy, etc. a new vitamin deficiency has developed (1). Its deficiency is so widespread that the shadow of this sunshine vitamin overshadows the world of deficiencies.
The importance of ensuring sufficient dosage of vitamin D is such that when the growing deficiency of vitamin D came to light, yesteryear Indian rapper, Baba Sehgal wrote a wacky track: “Vitamin D… Vitamin D…Vitamin D… D…D…”
Fun and folly aside, according to a report, 60-75 percent of Indians are vitamin D deficient (2). It’s surprising because India is a tropical country and there is no dearth of sunshine. But, that’s not all that’s needed to get the daily dosage of vitamin D.
What Is Vitamin D? How Do You Get It?
The term “vitamin D” refers to compounds vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) (3). While we can get D2 from food, we need sunlight for D3.
The sunshine vitamin is more of a pro-hormone than a vitamin. When we are exposed to an adequate amount of sun, the Ultraviolet B rays in the sunlight react with our skin to produce vitamin D. This then passes through the liver and kidneys to become active vitamin D (4).
Why Do You Need Vitamin D?
A scanty level of vitamin D can cause harm to the bones by making them soft, brittle, thin, and deformed. It’s not just the skeletal health that gets affected by rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis, but it also results in exoskeletal effects (5). These can impact the heart, brain, immune function, etc. If not monitored and managed properly, the likelihood of chronic diseases affecting the health is high (resulting in diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc.) (6)
How To Determine If You’re Deficient?
For most people, there are no clear-cut symptoms and signs, but there are some vague signs that can be indicative of an underlying problem. Do you have achy bones? Are you often a victim of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? Do you feel lethargic and tired? These are all signs of an inadequate supply of vitamin D. Muscle weakness without any reason and exhaustion even after enough sleep is yet another sign (7). If you’re prone to falling ill often or are feeling the blues more often than usual, you might be showing symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Darkening of skin, gut trouble and obesity are some other determinants of low sunshine vitamin D (8).
How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?
A quick Google search will leave you confused with varied recommendations for daily intake of vitamin D. According to the latest report by Health Canada, the daily recommended dietary allowance for infants under a year is 400 international units (IU), 600 IU for children and 800 IU for adults aged 1–70 (9). However, these recommendations are for those individuals who have no other health ailments. If you’re suffering from any other disease or ailment, it’s best to consult your doctor for a suitable dosage.
What Are The Food Sources Of Vitamin D?
Don’t underestimate the power of a common mushroom! Include mushrooms in your diet four times a week and you will see your vitamin D levels shoot up. This is the easiest and the tastiest way of getting the D. You can bake them, pan fry them, or cook them with other combination of foods too. To reap more benefits, sun dry them before cooking as they can naturally produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight (10).
Well, spread that additional layer of cheese on your breakfast toastie because, it’s one of the top 5 foods high on vitamin D. Among the various types of cheeses, ricotta cheese is the one that provides the maximum amount of vitamin D.
Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all high in vitamin D. If you are a seafood lover, binge on these. Typically, all oily and fatty fish contain vitamin D.
Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao anday. The vitamin D in an egg comes from the yolk, so it’s important that you occasionally eat the egg yolk in addition to the egg whites that you so religiously eat every day.
This plant-based milk that is produced by making a paste of the soybeans by soaking utin water and then grinding it. It contains almost the same amount of protein as the regular milk but is also rich in vitamin C, D, and the mineral, Iron.
Among other foods, fortified cereal and cod-liver oil are also great sources of vitamin D.
What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency?
It’s simple. The deficiency occurs when a person is not consuming enough of it or is unable to absorb and metabolize it. Some of the reasons for this could be:
- Obesity or overweight
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Gut health
- Using too much sunscreen
- Kidney and liver health
- Sedentary job
- Dark skin (an average Indian needs 10 times more sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as most Europeans) (11)
Now that you have had a crash course in the why, what, and how of vitamin D, we hope that you can keep the sunshine vitamin from being overshadowed. Shine on, people!
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