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This summer, soak some free Vitamin D

The sweltering harsh summer sun is now waning gradually. This has given way to a moderate weather and pleasant sunlight, making it the perfect time to soak in some free vitamin D.

Known as the sun-shine factor, Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced out of cholesterol when your skin is exposed to the sun. This form of the vitamin formed in our skin cannot be utilized by the body. It needs to be converted to a biologically active form for the body to use it.

After its absorption from the intestine, it is converted into its active form - a complex biomolecule called 1,25- dihydroxycholecalciferol. This molecule is formed through a series of multiple chemical reactions in your liver and kidney.

The sun-shine vitamin is provided to the body in 2 different ways
*Exposure of skin to sunlight.
*Consumption of natural foods like fatty fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk and cereals.

Vitamin D is produces from the UVB spectrum of sunlight. The best time of day to soak up the sun is anywhere between 10:00am and 2:00pm, as this is when the UVB rays are most abundant.

Vitamin D is absolutely essential for healthy bones and teeth. It enhances the absorption of calcium from our gut. The same calcium is later taken up by bones and teeth for a healthy development. Therefore, its deficiency is one of the primary causes of various bone disorders. Furthermore, it boosts brain development in children and strengthens our immune system.

The extended health benefits of Vitamin D are:
1. Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
2. Increases your muscle strength.
3. Reduces the risk of many types of cancers.
4. Protects from cardiovascular diseases.
5. Reduces the risk of brain and spinal cord nerve damage.
6. Reduces the risk of depression.

Since, it can be synthesized in the body, Vitamin D deficiency is relatively less common. But, those deficient shouldn’t ignore it in any way. Deficiency occurs in strict vegetarians, chronic alcoholics, individuals with liver and kidney diseases or nutrient malabsorption. What most of us don't realize is, deficiency can occur despite a proper source of the vitamin. This is attributable to its poor absorption from gut and poor metabolization in liver and kidney.

The deficiency leads to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Rickets in children is characterized by bone deformities due to incomplete mineralization of bone. This results in soft and pliable bone and delay in teeth formation. In osteomalacia, the bones become softer due to demineralization. This can lead to spontaneous fractures and other bone abnormalities.
The danger signs of Vitamin D deficiency include:
1. You have darker skin
2. You feel upset or anxietic through the day
3. You're 50 or older
4. You're overweight or obese
5. Your bones ache
6. Your head sweats a lot
7. You suffer from any chronic gut problem

It's alarming if you can see more than 3 of these danger signals. Discuss with your doctor if you feel your Vitamin D levels are low!

-Team HealthPotli

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