Vitamin D, often referred to as sunshine vitamin is one of the most essential vitamins that the body requires for strong bones. It is produced when the body is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and consumed from natural food sources. However, in recent times, many youngsters and the elderly have been found to face acute vitamin D deficiency leading to several health issues.
Deficiency of Vitamin D is the leading cause of body pain in the working crowd, especially among youngsters. Research shows that 70% of Indians are deficient in vitamin D and another 15% have insufficient vitamin D levels. The primary and natural source of vitamin D is the sunlight, which helps synthesize vitamin D in our skin.
This helps promote muscle and bone growth, lower blood pressure, ease fibromyalgia (acute body pain), and even slows the progression of multiple sclerosis. Alternately, when the body does not get enough of vitamin D, then it can lead to brittle bones, osteoporosis or frequent bone fracture. Less exposure to sunlight and avoiding food which contains vitamin D are the major reasons for the deficiency.
Women in India, especially, face vitamin D deficiency more compared to men. Most kids these days, face this deficiency because most of the schools do not have proper playgrounds to let the kids play outdoor games.
Erratic shifts, sitting in AC rooms for long hours, and avoiding outdoor sports/exercise in the morning are some of the leading causes of vitamin D deficiency. Along with these, sedentary lifestyle, not taking regular breaks in between work leads to body fatigue and pain, muscle and back pain in young working people.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Getting sick or infected often: One of vitamin D’s most important roles is to keep your immune system strong so that you are able to fight off viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. If you fall sick often, especially due to cold or flu, low vitamin D levels may be a strong contributing factor.
Skeletal deformities: These happen only in children. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to thickening of the ankles, wrists and knees, bowed legs, soft skull bones and, rarely, bending of the spine.
Fatigue and tiredness: Feeling fatigued and tired continuously can be due to many reasons, and Vitamin D deficiency can be one of them.
Bone and joint pain (most noticeable in the back and knees): Vitamin D helps maintain bone health in a number of ways. For one, it improves your body’s absorption of calcium. Bone and joint and lower back pain may be signs of inadequate vitamin D levels in the blood.
Impaired wound healing: Slow healing of wounds after surgery or injury may be a sign that your vitamin D levels are too low. Vitamin D also plays a critical role in controlling inflammation and fighting an infection for proper healing.
High or rising blood pressure: Increase in BP might be a sign of Vitamin D deficiency.Not only lack of sunlight but also digestive problems can lead to several medical conditions of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, therefore, any gut problem that affects the body’s ability to absorb fat could also impact vitamin D levels.
Avoiding Vitamin D deficiency
Exposure to sunlight – We need to expose ourselves to the direct sunlight for at least 20-30 minutes every day. However, we should avoid the afternoon sunlight since it has more UV rays and could be harmful to the skin. Exposing the body to the morning sunlight is good.
Eat food rich in Vitamin D – Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, are excellent sources of Vitamin D. Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks contain small quantities of vitamin D. Milk is fortified with vitamin D as are many bowls of cereal.
Take Vitamin D supplements — Taking Vitamin D supplements is important for people who cannot go out in the sun. It is also important to give these supplements to breastfeeding babies through dietary supplements. Magnesium supplements also stimulate Vitamin D
(The writer is a Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, BR Life SSNMC Hospital)