We all know that Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins required for our body. The first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear Vitamin D is that we get it from sunlight and it keeps our bones strong. These are true, but there is a lot more to know about the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’. Common misconceptions and negligence has left people with a huge risk of being Vitamin D insufficient.
Vitamin D is an important factor is building muscles and bones, and helping the human heart, brain and lungs function well. Vitamin D is unique in its characteristics because it is the only vitamin that the human body can make on its own. Unlike other vitamins which we get through various sources like food, the body makes its own Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Although, there are other means by which you can get Vitamin D like food and supplements.
The fact that our body make its own Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight has led to the first myth about vitamin D, which is that since we live in the UAE, where we experience more summer than winter, people get enough Vitamin D by being exposed to sunlight. Most people in the UAE, are vitamin D deficient, which is in fact one of the most preventable disorders. Living in a sunny climate and exposing yourself to sunlight for a few minutes does not give you enough Vitamin D. How long you need to spend in the sun depends on various factors like the color of your skin, the time of the day and year it is etc. A large amount of people in the UAE lack enough sun exposure despite living in a place that has bright sunny weather. Negligence of the importance of Vitamin C leads to people developing serious health conditions.
The common causes Vitamin D deficiency are;
Lack of sun exposure: specifically in the UAE, our current lifestyles have to do with lack of sufficient sun exposure where most of the time people travel by cars and seldom choose to walk even short distances.
Lack of the right nutrition: particularly in those who are strict vegetarians. Most vitamin D nutrients are found in animal based food products.
Dark skin: causes people to have higher levels of melanin which reduces its ability to absorb Vitamin D.
Obesity: causes the accumulated fat to alter the level of Vitamin D released into the blood for circulation.
Sunscreens: are always recommended by Doctors to protect the skin from the harsh sun rays. However, being in the sun with sunscreen on does reduce the ability of the skin to absorb Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a leading contributing factor to severe health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, liver diseases, conditions of the kidney and heart conditions.
It is crucial for people know their Vitamin D levels, because most people do not realize that they are Vitamin D deficient owing the subtle symptoms it manifests. A simple Vitamin D blood test can rule out the deficiency. The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, although rather subtle do affect your way of life even though it may not seem very prominent to you. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include; fatigue, back pain, muscle weakness, being prone to sickness, hair loss, depression, slow healing of wounds, muscle ache etc. Since the symptoms are rather general and do not specifically indicate the lack of Vitamin D, it becomes essential to consult a specialist and understand the root cause of the symptoms in order to treat them accordingly.
Lack of sufficient Vitamin D has proven to be linked to development of various conditions like; arthritis, osteoporosis, cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, oral health concerns, cancer and many other conditions. An optimal level of the required amount of Vitamin D depends on the various factors and varies across age groups.
Vitamin D deficiency can be diagnosed and treated. Treatment for the deficiency depends on its severity. Change in dietary and lifestyle practices and other supplements can help reverse the condition unless it has reached an extreme stage further causing other health conditions.
Some foods contain natural amounts of Vitamin D, which allows people to get the necessary from their diet. Foods like salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolk, milk and mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D. However consulting a specialist to understand your level of Vitamin D is much advisable than consuming it in excess which can further cause health consequences.
Aster Clinic, Dubai Silicon Oasis