After diabetes, hyper tension and heart disease, the new kid on the illness block has to be vitamin D deficiency. Anywhere between 65 to 80% of Indians are lacking in the appropriate vitamin D levels, which could make it really harmful for them. While there is no state-wise data available, it suffices to say that cities and states which get excessive sunshine or very less sunshine and where it’s more or less rainy or cold throughout the year tend to get into more trouble.
One of the problems of vitamin D deficiency is that the symptoms are similar to and can correlate with fatigue and depression. It starts as general aches and pains, lethargy, and low motivation. It can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Symptoms may also be confused with depression. Further, vitamin D deficiency may also cause depression because it saps the energy out of the person so that he feels unable to do anything. He can become hopeless if the situation continues.
There are some unique cultural reasons why Indians are prone to vitamin D deficiency. Some of them are stated below:
Melanin and Vitamin D
Most of us have wheatish or dark skin. Therefore, we need 20 – 30 times the exposure of the sun in order to gain our vitamin D requirements. Instead, we are using sun block or sun screen and shutting out the little sun there is.
We are cooped up inside cars, buses, homes and offices with our windows closed and our ACs on. Sunlight had through glass loses its effect and so, in essence we do not get our quota.
Many practices like wearing of burqa and other dark, full clothing as well as back to back pregnancies affect our vitamin D. Girls also have a pressure to be fair and light skinned so that the fear of tanning is deep in their hearts.
How much vitamin D do you need?
Daily exposure to the sun for an hour or two on the arms and face, before 10 AM and after 3 PM is good for our sun-shine requirements. It also needs to come from our food. Diet which is rich dairy foods like milk and eggs, non-vegetarian food, helps to gain the vitamin D we need.
Most people tend to ignore their deficiency because they feel it is not serious. However, if the levels dip too low, especially for women, it can damage the bones. It could get so bad, that injections would be needed to be given directly into the bones. If uncorrected, it could lead to walking difficulties and arthritis-like pain.
Go check your vitamin D levels right now. Even if you are deficient, now is a good time to make amends.
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