In Indian tradition, it is a well-known practice to massage an infant and then keep him/her in the sunlight for a while. This is done to give the baby adequate exposure to sunlight.
Now, a study done by doctors at the University College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi shows this custom really does benefit infants. The study recommends that exposure to sunlight for 30 minutes in a week can provide sufficient vitamin D to an infant.
India gets abundant sunlight throughout the year. Still most of the Indian population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. According to the experts, the study done in New Delhi is not only relevant for infants but also holds true for adults.
“We all should be exposed to sunlight for a sufficient amount of time during the day. Sunrays play an important role in activating dormant vitamin D compound in the body. Not only infants but adults too should sunbathe,” said Dr Neeta Naik, Paediatrician.
Earlier a study conducted at the Princess Esra Hospital of Deccan Medical College, Hyderabad, revealed that over the course of a year, only a quarter of people tested had good levels of vitamin D, with only 12.38 per cent found with high levels.
The researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent across all age groups, though it is more pronounced in infants and the elderly.
We do get some amount of vitamin D from food, but most of it comes from sunlight, say experts.
‘Sun exposure is important for us all to improve our vitamin D levels’ tweeted Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research.
According to Dr Hemant Joshi, Paediatrician 40 per cent of children’s body should be exposed to sunlight in order to have sufficient levels of vitamin D.
“Children should wear short pants and half shirt or T-shirts so that they their body is exposed to sunlight,” he added.
Dr Joshi further stated, “In my clinic, we checked vitamin D levels in 1000 children. We found that 850 children had vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight can help. It is necessary for life. It also increases immunity. Bright sunlight is necessary to increase vitamin D levels.”