According to National Institution of Nutrition’s research finding, majority of people above 60 years of age suffer from lack of vitamin D. The research centre located at Hyderabad reveals that among the people above 60 years of age, 56% of them are affected by the related diseases due to vitamin D deficiency. This is really alarming.
It is an irony that while vitamin D is the only element that is available free of cost in the world, many people lack it for want of sufficient exposure to direct sun. Even air and water is a priced commodity now but whereas sunlight is ever free. Medical experts opine that direct exposure to sun light will immediately start procuring vitamin D in our body. Particularly, Indians are lucky in terms of geographical location. Since we are close to the Equator, we receive maximum sunlight. Moreover, the sunlight is available for more number of months in a year. Such being the case, it is a paradox to note that some of the commercial advertisements are asking whether the oil that we purchase contains vitamin D or the poori that we eat contains vitamin D. Of course, their aim is to exploit the ignorance of the general public.
Dr.Senthilvelan, expert Orthopedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon explains the various details about Vitamin D deficiency as under:-
Our body produces vitamin D with the help of sun light. The ultra violet rays of the sun directly fall on our skin wherein they further undergo changes with the help of the tissues and thus vitamin D is produced in large quantity.
Other sources of vitamin D production are from the food products that we take like milk products, fish, eggs, meat, butter, vegetables, spinach and dhal varieties. However, it is only from the sun light that vitamin D is produced more. That is why it has been our traditional practice that the newly born babies are directly exposed to sun light. However, in general, especially, the working lot get confined to their air-conditioned office environment or under shift roster with no sun light touch on their bodies. As a result, vitamin D is found to be lacking in the case of many people.
If we compare the present working style of modern people, it should be done with the cave people in the past. The present-day office environment is the modern cave for the current generation. The IT people go to office almost before sun rise and return well after sunset. People who have to go out in the hot sun, use sun screen and other lotions in order to prevent the ultra-violet rays from falling on them. This arrests nearly 95% of the sun light. In the case of school-going children, less said is better. Most of the schools do not have adequate space for playground; so much so, the outdoor games are limited in number for the boys and girls. This is the reason as to why the young boys and girls run short of vitamin D supply.
Benefits of vitamin D:-
It will strengthen the bones
It will help calcium to be absorbed in our body
It will reduce high blood pressure
It will prevent bone marrow cancer
It will help children in their bone growth
It will treat bone damage in the case of old people
It will be good for muscle growth
It will protect one from skin diseases
It will prevent joint pain
It will help in burning the sugar in the blood
It will enable growth of tissues in our body
Back pain, muscle pain and fatigue will occur
Some people will develop body ache without any reason and the reason cannot be found by any normal test. They can particularly go in for vitamin D test.
Effects of Vitamin D defciency:
Vitamin D deficiency will lead to Rickets disease. The leg of children who have this deficiency will bend like a bow. Bloated stomach effect will occur. Bones will lose their strength. Nerves and teeth may be affected. Elders will become tired quite often and the sugar in the body will be discharged thro urine.
Depending on the weight of the individual body, approximately 600 to 2,000 units (International Unit s-IUs) of vitamin D are required per day, according to medical experts. It must be ensured that a minimum of 20 minutes direct exposure to sun light per day for at least 3 days a week is obtained by us. We must see to it that the children go out and play in hot sun. If that is not possible, we have to add this vitamin D in their food as it happens in western countries.
As regards aged people, their skin will not be in a position to absorb vitamin D from the sun because of wrinkles in their skin. Hence, they can take it in the form of tablets to compensate the same.
Similarly, people who have kidney or liver problem, will be required to take vitamin D tablets to supplement.
Dr.Senthilvelan finally mentions that direct sunlight either in the morning or in the evening is most ideal. In addition to this direct supply, he concludes that food intakes which are rich in vitamin D can be taken to supplement the same.
As stated in the introduction, the direct sunlight is abundantly available in nature free of cost and we should cash on it adequately.
(This article written in Tamil by G Lakshmanan has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)