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Vitamin D – The Sunshine element

Give me some sunshine, give me some rain. Heard of it? Yes, imagine how dull & dark life would be without sunshine? That’s not all; your skin would never look like it looks now. Many anthropologists theorize this fact that accounts for the difference in skin color between different races of people. The theory suggests that early humans migrated north from Africa into areas with decreased amounts of sunlight, the skin tones gradually lightened to increase Vitamin D absorption. Hence an African would have a different skin tone than a Mongolian.

How Vitamin D helps?

The major biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D plays an important role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth as it aids in absorption of calcium. It promotes bone mineralization in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, soft, or misshapen. But in the recent research it has been indicated that, vitamin D has the potential to help prevent diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Type 1 diabetes. It may also be a factor in decreasing the risk for colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.  Our body synthesizes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, it’s important to have your sunlight , but exposure to harsh sun (in the noon times) may increase the risk for skin cancer, wrinkles and age spots due to the UV rays, so it’s advisable to get your sunshine in early mornings only when sun is not harsh. So don’t forget your shades when you venture out in the afternoons!

How do we get our sunshine (Vitamin D)?

Eat foods rich in Vitamin D, such as milk and milk products, grains like Ragi, some oil seeds like Til (sesame) contain good amount calcium. Non vegetarians can enjoy fish like tuna, salmon, sardines and mackerel as they are a good source of Vitamin D.Vitamin D exists in several forms, each with a different activity. Some forms are relatively inactive in the body, and have limited ability to function as a vitamin. The liver and kidney help convert vitamin D to its active hormone form.

To convert this calcium into Vitamin D, allow yourself 5- 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure on your hands and arms every day, but in early mornings when the sunlight is not too harsh.

What happens if we don’t get enough?

Due to aging process, the body is not able to synthesize enough vitamin D from calcium, and the calcium absorption in the body is also question of debate, so to ensure the well being of bone and teeth health, one should take a daily multivitamin that contains 400- 800 IU of Vitamin D. Women after 30 should regularly take the supplement to avoid bone condition like osteoporosis.

What happens if  we exceeds the dose?

Vitamin D is fat soluble and therefore can be stored in the body where it may be built up to toxic levels. some of the symptoms of excess vitamin D include drowsiness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, headaches, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fragile bones and calcium deposits throughout the body including heart, kidneys and blood vessels.

So now that summers are here, get out your beach chair, a chilled glass of lemonade, and a cool pair of shades with an umbrella overhead (don’t want too much of it also)! If someone asks you that what are you up to? Just tell them that you are taking in your Vitamin Sunshine (D)! May hay while the sun shines!

About the author

Ekta Paneri-Gupta

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