Are you Vitamin D deficient?

Are you Vitamin D deficient?

By Silky Mahajan  on: 13 October 2016
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A lack of vitamin D does not just affect your bones, but poses more serious problems when neglected. As per the study 69% of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency, while a further 15% were found to be vitamin D insufficient. Because of long working hours and little or no time for outdoor activities, more and more people are suffering from vitamin D deficiency.

What is Vitamin D & why it is critical for Health?
Despite its name, vitamin D is not a regular vitamin. It's actually a steroid hormone that you get primarily from either sun exposure or supplementation. Vitamin D manages calcium in your blood, bones and gut and helps cells all over your body to communicate properly. Vitamin D also fights infections, including colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses.

Give me vitamin D
The reasoning behind this concern is that vitamin D is made in the skin by the action of the ultraviolet rays (UV) in sunlight and this is the main source of vitamin D for most people. During summer, the majority of the population gets enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy, balanced diet. However, during winter everyone needs to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D because, the sun is low in the sky, and the atmosphere filters out nearly all the UV rays.

In fact due to current lifestyle, it is getting difficult for people to meet the %u201810 micrograms per day%u2019 recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing vitamin D. People should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, if required.

Indeed, It's worth remembering that too much exposure to the sun brings exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which can have some nasty effects. Sometimes you can feel the heat from the sun on the skin but when it's windy or cloudy people may think they're less at risk but that's not true. UV can still be high and if you are over-exposed, your skin can burn which is not only painful but can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Sources to get Vitamin D
I firmly believe that appropriate sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels. If your circumstances don't allow you to access the sun, then you have only one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D supplement. Here too recommendations vary, and there are no hard and fast rules. 

What if you are vitamin D deficient?
Too little vitamin D results in soft bones in children and fragile, misshapen bones in adults. It helps control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which are needed to keep your bones and teeth healthy. Having too little vitamin D (a deficiency) can damage the way your body absorbs calcium and phosphorus. Also, chronic low vitamin D status has been linked to poor immunity and an increased risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, heart disease, some cancers, cavities, muscle weakness and bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Know your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D levels can be checked through blood test.

Vitamin D Guidelines

  1. Aim to consume a vitamin D-rich diet all year round but especially during winter season
  2. Consider supplementation during the winter months. Consult with Physician or Dietitian to understand the requirement of supplement because, over dosage is also bad.
  3. Try to expose the skin on the legs and arms to regular, sensible doses (5-30 minutes a day) of sunshine between the hours 10am and 3pm without the use of sunscreen.

Natural sources of Vitamin D

  • Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
  • Fish oil
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soymilk, and cereals.
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Cow milk

Avoid TOO MUCH VITAMIN D
While being vitamin D deficient is a problem; too much vitamin D leads to lot of problems as well. Excess of vitamin D may cause health problems such as dehydration, vomiting, kidney damage and kidney stones. Therefore, it is must to consume Vitamin D under supervision of healthcare professional.


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Silky Mahajan

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Dietitian in Bangalore , India 

An author of 'Nutrition for Sportspersons' book (published by Department of Youth Empowerment & Sports, Government of Karnataka), Silky Mahajan is a highly acclaimed name in the list of top Nutritionists in India. She is the Founder & Nutrition Expert at Foods & Nutrition Clinic, Bangalore. An award-winning nutritionist, she changes the way you eat forever with her acute understanding of nutrition and its significance in the diet. She has a Masters degree in Foods & Nutrition from Panjab University, Chandigarh. Also, she is Certified Sports Nutritionist from International Sports Science Association, USA. Silky also got trained in the field of Nutrition from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Chandigarh and Fortis Escort Hospital. She is holding Certified Diabetes Educator certification from International Hope Health Academy (IDEEL) in order to have the vast knowledge of Diabetes/Insulin response in athletes. Also, she is an active member of Indian Dietetics Association (IDA).Her profound knowledge in the field of nutrition and dietetics has made her the youngest most Nutritionists in the country. In an extremely short span of time, she has dealt with athletes globally, both elite players who have participated in top International Championships as well as young budding athletes with a promising future. She believes that all the joy of life comes from the right food you eat- in right amounts and, at the right time. She has acquired wide experience working with Fortis Hospital, Alere Medicals, Sports Academies, and many other reputed MNCs that have led her to become one of the country's pre-eminent nutrition experts working towards proper nutrition therapy for society to lead a healthier lifestyle. She is one of the very few certified sports nutritionists in India offering services to NGOs as well. As a prolific author, Silky Mahajan's columns appear in leading newspapers, sports/fitness magazines, social networking websites, and other online platforms.  She has also participated in many panel discussions on nutrition in FM Radios, corporate houses, sports academies, schools, and colleges.Silky has been practicing Nutrition for more than seven years in the field of sports as well as clinical nutrition. As part of sports nutrition, she covers most sports nutrition sub-specialties like carbohydrate loading, hydration strategy, energy & endurance, muscle building, insulin management, optimize performance and sports nutritional deficiency. As part of clinical nutrition, she covers Human nutrition (Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Adulthood & Older Adulthood), Weight Management, Medical Nutrition Therapy (e.g. Diabetes, Hypertension, Eating disorders, Thyroid, PCOS) as well as corporate nutrition classes.
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