Mumbaikars need more sun exposure, advice doctors

According to a recent study, two out of three Mumbaikars are deficient in Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, a condition that has increasingly been linked with diabetes, cancer, heart disease and even neurodegenerative disorders. Two independent studies measuring Vitamin D among paediatric and adult population found critically low levels in up to 80% of them

Mumbaikars need more sun exposure, advice doctors

Vitamin D known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. It also has a role in your nervous, muscle, and immune systems. Vitamin D protects against a host of health problems. “Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating blood pressure and preventing autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, chron’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes/ insulin dependent diabetes mellitus”, said Ankita Ghag, clinical nutritionist, Co-founder and director, Vacchan Aarogya.

Ghag further said that Vitamin D blood test helps evaluate the level of Vitamin D in the body. “Vitamin D deficiency occurs due to lack of metabolism of Vitamin D occurring in the body. The major source of Vitamin D is sunlight. But people don’t expose themselves to the sunlight. Now-a-days vitamin D deficiency is commonly seen in children.”

Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a Vitamin D deficiency, say the experts. Dr. Abhijit Kale, assistant professor, Orthopaedic department at LTGM Sion Hospital, informed, “I see Vitamin D deficiency cases on a regular basis. Vitamin D is required for mineralisation of the bones and the most well-known consequences to not having enough Vitamin D are rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Many adults, especially women, come to me complaining of multiple joint pains, they also feel low and lethargic.”

Vitamin D deficiency can affect the child immune system. “To prevent it child should be exposed to the sun for half-an-hour, between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Child can be dvsied to take a vitamin D supplement. For new born babies, 400 IU of Vitamin D is given. After that encourage children to play outside. After one year, 30,000 IU of Vitamin D is recommended every month or every alternate day, said Dr. Nitin K Shah, consultant Pediatrician and Oncologist, PD Hinduja Hospital.

Another study conducted at the Princess Esra Hospital of Deccan Medical College, Hyderabad, revealed that over the course of a year, only a quarter of the people tested had good levels of vitamin D, with only 12.38% found with high levels. The researchers found that vitamin deficiency is prevalent across age groups, though it is more pronounced in infants and the elderly.

Many people don’t develop symptoms until their vitamin D levels get very low or have been low for some time. Vitamin D deficiency means that you are not getting enough vitamin D to stay healthy. Vitamin D deficiencies can cause short-term symptoms and long-term complications. While talking to My Medical Mantra, Harsha Advani, 23, said, “Two months ago, I was diagnosed with extreme Vitamin D deficiency. Doctor said that I didn’t show any symptoms, as I am young. I am advised about 20 minutes of sun exposure everyday and with Vitamin D supplements.”

We get some of Vitamin D from food, but most comes from sunlight, said experts. “Adequate exposure to sunlight, foods like egg yolk, milk, fishes, cheese and butter can be consumed. Also, Vitamin D supplements and medicines can be taken on the regular basis, in order to treat the vitamin deficiency”, said Ghag.

Harvard University had also estimated that 1 billion people are low in Vitamin D.