Give me some Sunshine | Think Science India

Give me some Sunshine

The words of Charles Dickens where he writes about the bright sun not only bringing light, but also new life, hope and freshness certainly ring true, especially to someone who has been Vitamin D deficient for a while…

If you are used to a lifestyle of relative comfort, driving down, windows rolled up, to your air-conditioned workplace, leaving late, if your weekend recreation is limited to visiting theatres, malls and other indoor entertainment, and on top of that you deprive yourself of the right kind of food, you are a likely candidate for severe Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency is known to occur in people who do not get sufficient exposure to sunlight, especially if sunscreens are used or if the skin is dark. It can also occur in old age when the skin receptors and the kidneys that are involved in its activation don’t function as well.

Vitamin D is the easy for the body to create, especially in India, because all one needs to do is spend some time in sunlight and take a diet rich in calcium .It is indeed a paradox that the well to do, with no apparent dietary constraints, in a land of ample sunshine are struggling with its deficiency.

Before we explore further, lets understand what Vitamin D is and why we need it.

What is Vitamin D

Vitamin D exists in two predominant forms – D3, or cholecalciferol; and D2, or ergocalciferol.

The skin when exposed to sunlight, mainly Ultra Violet B rays, produces D3. Other sources include animal products such as eggs and fish.

Structure of Vitamin D 3
VitaminD3

 

D3 activation

d3

D2 Activation

d31

Actions of Vitamin D

The most important use of Vitamin D is in maintaining the normal calcium and phosphate concentration in the blood

  • It helps maintain blood concentration of calcium and phosphate by absorption of from the intestine and resorption from bone
  • Indirectly promotes bone mineralization
  • Is also known to act on immunological cells, muscles etc

Many times one does not realize it until a routine test reveals low levels. One generally ignores the non-specific symptoms like fatigue, weakness, feeling low and depressed, minor aches and pains

Often it is more severe bone pains, sinister looking single vertebra pain and fractures that lead one to an orthopedic.

Severe deficiency can lead soft bones due to inadequate mineralization – rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Oral and injectible forms of vitamin D are used to treat moderate to severe insufficiency. However, it is most important to get enough sun exposure and sufficient calcium in the diet.

To sum up, our bodies are well equipped to utilize natural resources, dietary and other, to function on autopilot .It is for us to live as naturally as possible, eat well, exercise, get our dose of outdoor recreation and of course sunshine to keep fit.

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