Are you living in an apartment which doesn’t get adequate sunlight or unknowingly your work place & lifestyle is keeping you away from the required sunshine? Figure it out, this could be due to shadowing or positioning of the building and its design and construction materials that reflect light and debar most of the sunlight from entering inside.
Did you know, because of the above reasons, most of us are living with inadequate sun exposure experiencing never ending tiredness, full body muscular pain, lower back pain, hair loss, irritation and the constant feeling of being low in energy and mood?
Not only this, 70 % of Indians are having Vitamin D deficiency, out of which housewives, working professionals, teenagers and even kids have reported very low vitamin D levels in the body.
Why 70% of Indians are vitamin D deficient?
As you may already know, sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D, that’s why it is commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin”. India, being a tropical country, has been gifted with abundant sunshine throughout the year. However, living in flats which have low sun exposure may lead to deficiency of Vitamin D and several bone disorders such as rickets in small children, osteomalacia in adults and osteoporosis in mid-aged and elderly people increasing the risk of fractures in people with 55 years of age and above.
People might also experience symptoms such as weakness, unexplained infertility, depression, high blood pressure, exhaustion, muscle, bone and back pain.
Working professionals in India, leave for office usually around 8 am and reach home after sunset, at least 6 days a week. They never get the optimum amount of exposure to sun, neither at workplace nor at home.
Our lifestyle has also unwittingly led to Vitamin D deficiency as we got habituated to travel in air-conditioned cars/buses/metro etc which naturally limits our access to direct sunlight.
Gone are the days when kids used to play for longer time under the sun. Even as parents, we hardly encourage our children to play outdoor. Because of this, even kids are not getting adequate sun exposure as they are spending less time in playing outdoor games getting devoid of the required sunshine. Even if we step out in the sun for half an hour, we prefer sun blocks with higher amount of SPF daily to prevent darkening of the skin. These all add up and eventually lead to Vitamin D deficiency.
Required amount of vitamin D to be taken
According to research, experts estimated that one should get about 1000-1500 hours of sun exposure throughout the seasons to obtain the sufficient amount of Vitamin D for your body. The mentioned figure might not be possible in a natural way due to its own merits and demerits. But we can always methodically cover up the deficiency. Know how!
The amount of Vitamin D required for your body depends on your age. It is measured in IU (International Units). Below are the prescribed amounts to be taken as per age.
- Birth to 12 months: 400 IU
- Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
- Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
- Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
- Adults 71 years and older: 800 IU
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU
Note: Do not self-medicate. Doctors recommend dosage according to the current levels & requirement of Vitamin D in your body.
Top ways to keep Vitamin D deficiency at bay
Have a morning walk daily
Your body produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for 40-60 minutes. Including morning walks in your daily routine has many benefits for your overall health. Ideal time to reap maximum benefit is between 6 AM- 9 AM. Remember to have plenty of water after your walks & avoid long hours of direct sun exposure after 9 AM. Wearing light coloured clothes while walking has added benefits. This is the best natural way to cope up with the shortfall of Vitamin D levels in your body, if the deficit is only marginal.
Vitamin D rich foods
Consume Vitamin D rich foods such as cow milk, oatmeal, milk products, tofu, omega 3 rich nuts (cashew, groundnuts, walnuts), egg yolk, mushrooms, omega 3 rich fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel), sea food, soya beans, cheese, almond milk, soymilk, orange juice (fortified).
Omega 3 fatty acids help in the activation of Vitamin D which in turn helps the body absorb calcium, magnesium and many more essential nutrients.
To be noted, people with chronic Vitamin D levels below 20mg/dl must take additional supplements or injections to fulfil their requirement. Food alone cannot make up for adequate Vitamin D levels in such cases.
Ask your doctor for Vitamin D supplements but remember not to consume in excess amounts. Overdose of Vitamin D is possible through oral supplements. Accumulated levels of Vitamin D has its own disadvantages. It increases the level of calcium. Hence make sure to take the supplements in prescribed amounts.
Along with these precautionary measures, parents should encourage their children to play outdoor games for at least 30 minutes daily. Also talk to your health care provider to know if you are at a risk for Vitamin D deficiency and about the blood tests offered to check the levels of Vitamin D in your body. Maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D is beneficial for other parts of the body as well. Instead of neglecting your health now and realising later, follow these tips and lead a happy healthy life.