A vitamin D (aka Sunshine Vitamin) deficiency is associated with a slew of health risks. Most Indian women are vitamin D deficient, especially when they start ageing. Recent studies have revealed that 76 per cent women are Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency in Indian women is attributed to the fact that, there is less exposure to sunlight for the fear of tanning, dark skin color (high melanin acts as a sunscreen), poor consumption of foods rich in vitamin D, extreme weight loss and dieting, lack of milk consumption again due to fear of weight gain, or lactose intolerance, increased tea, coffee intake and overcooking of foods (vitamin D is very heat sensitive).
Lack of Vitamin D can lead to depression, weight gain, osteoporosis of bones where bones become weak, cancer risk becomes high, Diabetes, infections as low immune status sets in or cardiovascular diseases.
During pregnancy and childbirth the infant is at risk of low vitamin D if the mother’s levels are not optimal. Woman herself has increased needs during this time, due to high bone turnover. Also during pregnancy a lack of vitamin D will increase risk of preeclampsia by 40%, plus she is at risk for all the problems listed above.
As for children lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets and osteomalacia which is a bone metabolic effect leading to leg deformity and fractures. Also it can affect the mental alertness and immune functions leading to repetitive infections.
To avoid Vitamin D deficiency:
- The best way to increase your vitamin D levels is through sunlight. Aim for spending 10-20 minutes of unexposed time in the sun daily.
- You should have foods rich in vitamin D like fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, soy milk or at least 1 egg yolk.
- To treat the deficiency get a doctor supervised high dose as per your levels. Then of course maintenance dose for life.
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