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Esther Almeida, Dietician in Vasai, speaks about the Benefits of Vitamin D

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Vitamin D – The Undervalued Vitamin

‘Anything strong on the outside does not always seem strong from the inside.’

India has marked the prevalence of many rising deficiencies even today. Malnourishment is centred as the major issue of our country especially among the underprivileged and rural population, being tagged as undernourished.

On the contrary, many researchers today have also linked malnutrition to the wealthier urban population, bringing into light the fact,

‘Overly fed doesn’t always mean healthy if you consume only one or two nutrients abundantly but remain scanty in the rest.’

In the process of celebrating health and wealth, Adequate Nutrition becomes a holistic approach.

 

Why Micro-nutrients?

Imagine your body is a luxury car, the good fuel you put into your car is the nourishing food you consume to get your body moving. The proteins establish the sturdy framework of your car. Hence, they are also known as building blocks. But what holds this shiny tough structure together?

The ball bearings and tiny spares that assemble this framework together are micro-nutrients without which the body would definitely collapse. Ouch!

Micro-nutrients include all vitamins and minerals that govern the important functions of the human body. Among these are vitamin D and calcium that are of paramount importance not only for the bone growth and development but also for proper muscle contraction, stronger teeth, robust immunity, inhibition of Cancer cell proliferation, the formation of certain enzymes and maintenance of blood pressure.

 

Deteriorating Bone Health

Recent research that will blow your mind reveals that,

‘More than 80% of the Indian population is deficient in vitamin D.’

This is a peak of concern when compared to the European countries known for their sky cover as much as India is known for its sun.

Furthermore, osteoporosis and associated fractures are a major cause of illness, disability and death rendering huge medical expenses. It is estimated that the annual number of hip fractures will rise from 1.7 million in 1992 and 6.3 million by 2050. Needless to say, You could also be among them if you are not making the right lifestyle choices.

 

The Sunshine Vitamin

When the golden rays of the sun kiss the surface of your body the cholesterol under your skin is activated and converted into vitamin D. Taking into note without the presence of vitamin D the absorption of calcium is totally impossible.

The average Indian is blessed with a brown skin tone. The melanin produced here protects the skin from damage. Overexposure to UV rays can damage the skin DNA, leading to skin cancer. So basically we all have an inbuilt sunscreen that protects us from the harmful UV rays including UV-Brays which aid in the absorption of vitamin D.

Moreover, a modern sedentary lifestyle has crippled us to reap the natural benefits of the sunshine. hence making us more prone to vitamin D deficiency.

 

What Happens When You’re Low On Vitamin D?

If you are constantly tired and often feel your body ache, you are probably among millions with a low intake of vitamin D

Brittle Bones

Lack of vitamin D leads to poor calcium absorption and increases the risk of fractures.

When your blood serum calcium level is low, the calcium in your bones begins to drain out to maintain normal homeostasis. This reduces, bone density making them weak and brittle. This condition is known as osteoporosis

Accelerated bone loss occurs early in women than in men as there is a decrease in oestrogen production during menopause.

Wholesome amount of calcium intake is required particularly during the adolescent growth spurt for the gain in bone mass.

Elevated Blood Pressure

Chronic inadequate intake of Vitamin D has been linked to hypertension disorders. Poor intake of Vitamin D leads to insufficient calcium absorption which otherwise helps lower down blood pressure.

A report stated that 82.6% of hypertensive patients, had insufficient vitamin D.

Depleted Immunity

Vitamin D in the form of a biologically active compound regulates the immune responses. It plays an important role in cell-mediated immunity.

Reduced exposure to sunlight, can slow down the processes involved in strengthening immunity, giving you a frazzled immune system.

More Visits To The Dentist

Vitamin D helps in the synthesis of non-collagenous protein found in the bone matrix and your teeth.

Tooth enamel consists of 70% inorganic substance i.e calcium and phosphate ions, about 20% of the organic material is called collagen, with water constituting the rest of the enamel. The inorganic substances combine to form a high strength hydroxyapatite crystal that keeps your teeth tough when you are savouring on your favourite food.

Intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate is stimulated by the favourable presence of vitamin D.

Your Child Is At A Risk

Statistics give out up to 84% pregnant women in India is are low on Vitamin D

Deficiency of this vitamin during pregnancy and a lack of exposure to the sun in early childhood causes a bone disease called rickets in infants along with delayed wound healing

A Prey To Metabolic Diseases

This deficiency has been linked to chronic diseases like Type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases as well.

A study found that 84.2% of Type II diabetes patients were deficient in Vitamin D.

Pondering about those wasted days of ample Sunshine? It’s never too late to start.

 

Harvest The Benefits Of Vitamin D And Calcium

Vitamin D and calcium absorption are two-parts as a whole. Their functions go hand in hand. When you consume foods rich in calcium it is important to incorporate optimum amounts of vitamin D for its absorption.

Don’t Shy Away From The Sun

Sunlight is the only major source of vitamin D. It is advisable to get at least 30-45 minutes of sunlight every day, ideally early afternoon.

Ferment Your Cereals And legumes

Phytates present in the husk of many grains, legumes, nuts and seeds hinder the absorption of calcium. Processes like fermentation, soaking and roasting reduce phytate content and improve calcium absorption.

Dairy To The Rescue

Dairy products are the primary sources of calcium. Lactose sugar in milk has shown to increase calcium absorption.

For our vegan buddies, soya, almond, peanut and coconut milk are healthy alternatives.

Add Exercise To Your Regime

Exercises such as weight training, pilates and other non-aerobic exercises strengthen the bone and improve muscle tone. Research shows that lifting weights over a period of time increases bone density and has also been proven as an effective remedy for osteoporosis.

It is important to add physical activity into your regime exclusively during adolescent and young adulthood period. Calcium here is like the money you deposit in your bank which comes to the rescue when you don’t have enough. The more calcium deposited on your bones, you’ll have enough to spare.

Check On Non-vegetarian Sources

Our body’s pH is slightly alkaline. This alkaline pH controls all the enzyme activities. Animal sources especially meat makes the body acidic. In this case, calcium ions leach out from the bones to maintain normal homeostasis and thereby neutralizing the effects of the acid, further giving way to a deficiency.

If you are a non-veg lover try including more salad sticks to your plate. Vegetables like spinach, cucumber, broccoli, avocado, sprouts, carrots, soy, lima beans and fruits like figs, apples, bananas, grapes, etc are alkaline in nature.

Other Sources

Egg yolk, liver, oysters and a certain variety of fish contain small amounts of vitamin D. It is also recommended to consume Vitamin D fortified cereals, legumes and dairy. Supplements should only be consumed as prescribed by the doctor.

A Golden Takeaway

Ragi, also known as finger millet, contains about 3 times more calcium compared to dairy. Start filling your containers with ragi right away.

Looking out for the right nutrition advice? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Esther Almeida is a certified adviser in food and health. She has also secured a diploma in Dietetics and Nutrition. Success begins with the tiny little habits we add to our lifestyle each day. Be a part of Esther’s fun and interactive blog. The tiny little changes you make will improve your well being. Click below:

 

 

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