While social distancing is the need of the hour, being cooped up inside your home can deprive you of your fill of the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D.
However, being deprived of the strongest and most effective source of this vitamin, the Sun, does not have to take a toll on your health levels. Dr Harish Naik, consultant-neurosurgery, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-a Fortis Network Hospital says that very few people are aware of the benefits of Vitamin D3 in preventing infections and improving the overall health and well-being of humans.
Something that is of utmost importance to build your immunity as well as your mood.
Dr Harish Naik says, "Vitamin D3 has many mechanisms by which it improves bone health, controls neurological problems, reduces the risk of microbial infection, increases cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity. Vitamin D3 supplementation has shown favourable effects in viral infections including influenza and HIV. Moreover, the benefits of Vitamin D3 is not restricted to bone health, immunity, or infection control, it is much beyond that. However, the deficiency of it can severely impact overall health and well-being."
What is Vitamin D and why is it important?
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone, activated endogenously with the effect of ultraviolet radiation received from the Sun, or from food sources and dietary supplements. Our body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium to be able to promote and maintain bone health. We also need vitamin D for other important body functions.
The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults include
"Tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well, severe bone or muscle pain, a weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips."
Effects of Vitamin D supplements on mental health
"Most people in our country have insufficient levels of Vitamin D - the normal range is above 30. Even before the pandemic, we have seen cases where people's vitamin D deficiency ranged between 20-30, but during the pandemic, it has fallen less than 20. This is also true for persons with depression as well as other mental disorders. We have seen acute vitamin D deficiencies among such patients. Interestingly, research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms."
The sunshine vitamin is also a must for building and maintaining healthy bones. It keeps your bones strong by helping your body absorb calcium, phosphorus, and key minerals for bone health. The continuation of calcium and vitamin D in a patient with bone loss and osteoporosis is critical for optimal care. Unfortunately, 90 per cent of women and older people may not be getting enough calcium and over 50 per cent of women treated for bone loss have inadequate Vitamin D levels.
Food sources of Vitamin D3
Breakfast cereal (fortified)
Orange juice (fortified)
Apart from appreciating food sources people especially, women and the elderly need to regularly screen for Vitamin D deficiency through a pathological blood test and bone density test. This is significant for overall health and wellbeing.