Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
Is waking up to a lazy morning with pains a common scene for you? Is your teenage daughter having a lot of body pain? Is your wife regularly experiencing migraine attacks? If you have maximum “Yes” as answers, then you might be reading the right article as you or females in your family are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. It is also important for you to know that almost 70% of Indians have Vitamin D deficiency and most of the cases go undetected. A human body doesn’t produce its own Vitamin D aka the sunshine Vitamin as a large portion is obtained by sunlight and the rest from our food.
According to a recent study, in India due to the difference in body composition and hormonal levels, Vitamin D deficiency is more common in females than males. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency. If levels of Vitamin D are less than needed in our body it can harm our bones and make them brittle, thin and soft. Moreover, Vitamin D is equally important for heart, brain and the body’s immune system. When lack of this Vitamin is not addressed timely, it might lead to serious complications like osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and rickets.
Lately, many doctors recommend a Vitamin D test. Here are few frequently asked questions related to the same to help you understand the test and its implications better.
Q1. What is Vitamin D?
It’s a simple vitamin. It’s a steroid hormone which affects mostly all the cells in our body. These vitamins are synthesised on sun exposure and are essential for calcium absorption in our bodies.
Q2. Is it only me?
No, definitely not just you! Though India is a tropical country with plentiful sun yet Vitamin D deficiency is reaching epidemic proportions. With the current lifestyle, where we stay indoors most of the time, either in the office or at home and outdoor physical activity is almost zero, our exposure to sunlight has reduced to alarming levels. Hence, almost 60-70 % of females in our country lack the amount of Vitamin D which should be present in our body.
Q3. What are the ideal levels of Vitamin D in the human body?
The blood test that measures vitamin D is called a 25(OH)D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Q4. What are the common symptoms?
If you have been complaining of constant aches and pains, then your doctor might advise you a Vitamin D test.
Q5. Why me?
The reasons of you lacking Vitamin D can be many like:
- Lack of Vitamin D rich foods (Generally Vegetarians)
- Exposure to sunlight is limited
- You are dark complexioned
- You are obese
- Your kidneys can’t synthesise your body’s Vitamin D
- Your stomach is weak and cannot absorb Vitamin D in your diet
Q6. Can I be treated just with food source?
For those who have a normal range of Vitamin D in blood, they can continue eating food sources rich in Vitamin D but those who have shown fewer vitamins in blood shall have to take supplements prescribed by the doctor with the method of administration.
Q7. What food sources are advised?
There are multiple food sources which are rich in Vitamin D. But in an Indian household what is rich in Vitamin D isn’t generally cooked. So few items which can be made part of your daily meals and food habits are
- Mushrooms – Use them if not daily then alternatively in salads, soups and vegetables.
- Oranges – Especially in winters when they are in abundance eat at least on a day or juice of it.
- Curd – Have a bowl of curd in each meal.
- Soya – Chunks or nutrein nuggets are a rich source of Vitamin D. Use them as a vegetable, add them in upma or salads.
- Egg – An egg if eaten every day, not only it gives you appropriate protein but also fulfils the Vitamin D content.
- Fish – It’s the richest form of Vitamin D, but not made in daily households regularly due to its availability and price. Those who can should eat fish preferably salmon as it is the richest source of Vitamin D.
Q8. What are other sources of Vitamin D?
Sunlight is a rich source of Vitamin D. The doctor can even advice you artificial Vitamin D. It can be Vitamin D supplements in the form of sachets, capsules or injections.
Q9. What is a Vitamin D test?
To test Vitamin D levels, your doctor is most likely to recommend a monitoring of your 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D levels. Other names of this test are “Vitamin D (25 OH)” or “25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD),” or “25(OH)D,” but these all are the same test.
Q10. By when will I feel the difference after taking supplements?
Have patience! Vitamin D is not just a Vitamin, it is a hormone and the body takes time to regulate it. It is taken in form of a medicine but does not show immediate changes which are seen as in the case of other medicines. The body takes time in absorbing it and then shall show significant results with reduced body pains.
Q11. How to get tested?
Just a call away! We at Healthians are here to get you tested for the right levels of Vitamin D in your body. Our technician will come and take a sample of blood from your house and the results will be provided within 24 hours.