Vitamin D deficiency: Why it's becoming common; lifestyle changes that may help | Health - Hindustan Times

Vitamin D deficiency: Why it's becoming common; lifestyle changes that may help

By, New Delhi
Nov 04, 2023 08:16 PM IST

Vitamin D deficiency is on rise due to modern lifestyle, says expert. Here are changes in your routine that may help.

Vitamin D deficiency can silently take a toll on your mental and physical health. The sunshine vitamin is available in the form of sunlight, eggs, plants, oily fish, red meat etc, but the cases of Vitamin D deficiency are on rise due to a variety of factors. Remaining cooped up in the house, wearing too much sunscreen, avoiding fat are all surprising reasons of Vitamin D deficiency. As you know the essential vitamin is needed by the body to perform various functions that includes absorption of calcium which can directly impact bone health. If you are fatigued all the time and falling ill more often, you should get your Vitamin D levels checked. (Also read: Low levels of vitamin D could be a risk factor for long Covid: Study)

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone which is involved in the process of bone growth and metabolism.(Unsplash)
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone which is involved in the process of bone growth and metabolism.(Unsplash)

"Vitamin D gives so much of health benefits. This is synthesized in our body itself after exposure to UV -B from sunlight. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone which is involved in the process of bone growth and metabolism. It is synthesized and converted to its active form between the organs, kidney and liver. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and hence needs a media of fat for its moving around and for storage," says Dr Karthiyayini Amar Mahadevan, Head, Wellness and Wellbeing at Columbia Pacific Communities

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Why so many people are deficient in Vitamin D?

If you are diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, there are chances you do not get enough sunlight, or your liver or kidney cannot convert it to its active form.

The main source for Vitamin D is the sun wherein the human body synthesizes itself using sunlight. Due to staying indoors and avoiding sun, many people are facing this threat of Vitamin D deficiency.

"People who prefer to be cooped up in air-conditioned rooms are likely to not get exposed to sun. This can hamper Vitamin D levels. Also wearing a sunscreen lotion to protect skin from tanning is another reason that this vitamin is poorly sourced from sun. Vitamin D being a fat-soluble vitamin may not be absorbed in the body as many people are completely avoiding fat which may lead to Vitamin D deficiency. Children born to mothers with Vitamin D deficiency will suffer from the same to an extent that it affects their bone growth and metabolism," says Dr Mahadevan.

Common and lesser-known symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is produced in the skin from sunlight and is also absorbed from food. This is converted into its active metabolite by the organs - liver and kidney. Vitamin D is required for absorption of calcium and phosphate from the gut.

"Commonly known presentation of Vitamin D deficiency is rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. In both these conditions the deficient calcium makes the bone soft and brittle. Vitamin D deficiency presents as immense fatigue, impaired immune system and thereby making one prone to recurrent infection. This was one of the vitamins suggested during Covid pandemic for strengthening immune system. There are studies to show the association between depression and Vitamin D deficiency. Excessive intake of Vitamin D is also equally toxic," says Dr Mahadevan.

Diet tips and lifestyle strategies to overcome Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is available in two forms - Vitamin D2 which is sourced through plants and Vitamin D3 which is sourced through animal food and sunlight. Dietary sources include fortified milk, cereals, whole egg, fatty fish, cod liver etc.

  • Stepping in the sun for sunlight exposure for about 10-15 minutes is sufficient preferably between 11 am and 3 pm to get a good dose of Vitamin D.
  • Taking up gardening as a hobby or watering the plants everyday can help get sun exposure.
  • Including Vitamin D sources through a balanced diet will help to get the dietary sources too.
  • Practising Surya Namaskar can also help you get required sunlight.

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