When the sun shines, get out and get your body to make some Vitamin D. Your bones will thank you for it.
Of all the vital nutrients our body needs, there's one that stands away from the crowd. You can't get it no matter how many green vegetables you eat or how much fibre you intake. The nutrient is manufactured by the body itself, in the presence of sunshine. The nutrient is Vitamin D and judging by how many sun-dodging Indians (some studies show that almost 80 per cent of us may be at risk, especially women) in our sunny country are being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, it's time to take a good look at it.
When you're out of D
A deficiency causes weak bones, weak muscles, tiredness and skin problems as low vitamin D levels also interfere with zinc absorption. Without vitamin D, the body also cannot properly absorb calcium.
Most cases of vitamin D deficiency arise from sedentary urban lifestyles - hours spent indoors away from sun. It is connected to diseases like obesity, cardiovascular problems and muscle and bone diseases. It also causes slow nerve responses (especially when there is also a deficiency of vitamin B). In children, rickets is the result of low calcium in the bones due to calcium deficiency.
If you're low on D
Most experts suggest an annual blood test to see if your levels of vital nutrients are stable. Timely correction is possible with the help of your doctor. Seniors, fracture-prone individuals and women who've just given birth should pay special care to their vitamin D intake as well. Teens, whose bodies go through physical changes as bones and muscles develop, should look after their calcium and vitamin D intake too.
As with most deficiencies, prevention is easier than a too-late diagnosis and a belated attempt at getting back to normal, especially if it's just a matter of getting enough sun. So make hay while the sun shines!
From HT Brunch, June 1
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