Owing to its most important natural source- sun, Vitamin D is also, popularly known as the "sunshine vitamin". Vitamin D performs some vital functions in the body such as stimulating the absorption of calcium essential for the growth of bones and other skeletal tissues. Also, it helps in the mental as well as emotional growth improving learning and concentration power, elevating mood in addition to boosting the immune system.
Inadequate exposure to sun: As sun is the best source for Vitamin D production, spending adequate time in the sun is very important.
Application of sunscreen: Sunscreen provides hindrance in absorbing sunrays and Vitamin D production.
Darker complexion: More melanin pigment in darker individuals has the same effect as sunscreen that blocks the vitamin production.
Vegetarian diet: As majority of Vitamin D sources are animal products, vegetarians have a higher tendency to develop its deficiency.
Age over 50: As the age advances, the ability of the kidneys to convert Vitamin D into its active absorbable form gets restricted leading to lower levels.
Obesity: More body fat not only prevents the Vitamin production but also, increases the body"s vitamin D requirement.
Gastrointestinal disorders: Certain GI diseases such as Crohn"s, celiac diseases etc that affect the digestion of fatty products also affect the absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin resulting in deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms:
Soft, brittle bones prone to fractures
Excessive sweating in the palms,soles and hair.
Rickets in children: deformed legs due to low density of bones
Osteomalacia in adults: bone softening
Impaired immunity making one prone to depression, various infections, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, asthma etc
High risk of diabetes as lack of enough Vitamin D slows down the action of insulin to process body sugar.
Adequate sun exposure of about 10-15 minutes daily. Increase the duration if you have a darker skin tone.
No sunscreen unless out in the sun for longer durations
Avoid exposure to sun through a glass window as glass blocks the useful ultraviolet B rays essential for the production of Vit D.
Intake of foods rich in Vitamin D such as fish, fish oils, egg yolks, mushroom, cheese, fortified milk or cereals.
A blood examination is done to detect the Vitamin D levels in the body. A bone scan may be done in cases of extremely low levels.
Supplements are prescribed depending on the severity of deficiency
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