Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you think and more concerning than you imagine. Various studies peg that as many as 1 billion people in the world are deficient in this essential nutrient. And it is not only in countries which don’t get much sun. India, which gets ample sun round the year, too has high prevalence vitamin D deficiency in its population. So what is the cause, how does it effect and what are the list of foods that are high in Vitamin D? Read on.
D- Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D or Calciferol is also often called the sunshine vitamin. Reason? Simple, your body can make this vitamin when in sunlight. It is also available in animal based products. An inert substance, our body converts vitamin d or calciferol to absorbable substances in liver and then in kidney.
The nutrient enables the absorption of calcium in our body, which is in turn responsible for healthy bones and teeth. It is responsible for maintaining normal bone density, growth and remodelling. Other than this, it is also essential for proper absorption of phosphorus. The vitamin plays a role in reducing inflammation, modulation of cell growth and neuromuscular function as well as immune and metabolic function.
Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
Why is it that even if you get enough sun, your blood reports suggest deficiency? The reason is that sunshine is not enough – it would depend on how much sun your skin is getting.
Our body can synthesize vitamin D when sunlight falls on your skin. And not just sunlight but more specifically UV or ultraviolet rays. So, if you are all covered, are wearing sunscreens and so on, the chances are you are not making much vitamin D, even when you are out in sun for long hours. Also, people with darker skin are also known to have lower capacity to produce the vitamin.
Another cause of deficiency is diet. Vitamin D deficiency is widely common in strictly vegan lifestyles as the nutrient is most commonly found in animal based products.
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
Acute deficiency of vitamin D leads to rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. It could also mean ill formed bones or brittle bones due to lack of calcium. Not just bone health, this vitamin is also essential for proper neuromuscular, metabolic and immune functions. Lack of the vitamin would increase muscular cramps. Research is also linking the vitamin to prevention of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Treatment – Foods rich in vitamin D
Doctors would often recommend supplements for you in case you are deficient. It is important for individuals to refer to a physician for proper dosage and avoid taking supplements off the counter. However, in case you are not a fan of supplements and prefer natural way, then there are some foods that you can eat.
Fatty fish (pomfret, tuna, salmon, trout), fish liver oils are excellent source of natural dietary Vitamin D. Cheese, egg yolk and fortified mil is also good sources. While vegan options are not really available, mushrooms and fortified grains could be a good alternative.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet.