25 Oct 2016

Vitamin D - Part 1 (Co-authored by Jennifer Dhuri)



Vitamin D - The sunshine vitamin!

It is said that sunshine is the best medicine Have you thought why? 
Sunshine gives us vitamin D that helps maintain strong bones, but there's a lot more to Vitamin D than meets the eye. It is an often-overlooked, under-consumed nutrient that plays a major role in your overall health and performance.
Why are we getting to hear so much about vitamin D deficiency since past some time? And the duration and frequency of the discussions keep increasing day by day!
Well, According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, 2015 about 75% to 100% Indians in various age groups of the population is deficient in vitamin D.

Lets start from the basicsVitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which belongs to the  family i.e.: A, D, E, K. It is produced upon exposure to sunlight, with the help of your Skin, Liver, Kidneys and the Parathyroid gland. To get your daily dose of vitamin D - the best time is around sunrise till 2 hours later. After that, the sun could get harsh for your skin, but anytime sun exposure is better than having no sun exposure!

Probable causes of deficiency

1) Low dietary intake of vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C.

2) High fiber (especially in meal replacers) and phytate intake that depletes vitamin D levels,

3) Reduced exposure to sunlight (either due to not being in the sun or due to excessive use of sun-screen ( to look one tone brighter!), or umbrella to stay protected fom sun-tan, or due to ‘purdah’ or burqa’ practice,

4) Excess use of air-conditioners while in the office or while travelling, 

5) Zero or Low fat intake – as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, lack of fat in the diet leads to less or no absorption of it from the diet,

6) Dark skin produces significantly lesser amount of vitamin D than fairer skin,

7) Lack of direct sunlight in population dense areas and lack of sunlight due to sun-films used in the cars and office windows,

8) More intake of Tea and Coffee which leads to decreased absorption of Calcium, Iron and vitamin D from the already low vitamin D diet,

9) Obesity - A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that vitamin D is less bioavailable in obese people,

10) Leaky Gut - Vitamin D is absorbed in the small intestine in the presence of fat. A leaky and inflamed gut, Crohn's disease, Irritable bowel syndrome or symptoms, Chronic constipation, Celiac disease and such intestinal disorders can interfere with absorption of vitamin D,

11) Genetics - Slight differences in genes, can impact the proteins and enzymes that help the body utilize vitamin D. These slight genetic differences have been linked to Hashimoto's and thyroid cancer.

12) Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) & hypothyroidism.

13) Low 25OHD levels are associated with insulin resistance, ovulatory and menstrual irregularities, lower pregnancy success, hirsutism, hyperandrogenism, obesity and elevated cardiovascular disease risk factors in women!

14) Lack of physical activity – any physical activity when done is a good exercise for your bones, ligaments and cartilages. Decrease in amount of physical activity leads to stiffness of bones and hardening of ligaments & cartilages.

15) Crash dieting/ FAD diets and Self made diet plans – without knowing the consequences of following crazy diets, people put their bodies in a state of shock and then after some time they find out their bodies have become deficient in certain trace minerals and hence are deficient in vitamin D too!

This is also a reason as to why consulting a Diet consultant is so important!

16) Stress – Vitamin D is produced in the body and it looks for Vitamin D Receptors (VDR), without VDR’s vitamin D will not be utilized. Our body when in stress produces the hormone ‘Cortisol’ which depletes VDR capabilities in the body, hence making vitamin D unavailable to the body! 

This article has been co-authored by Jennifer Dhuri who runs a page - Jennifer's Nutrition and Diet Solutions (Jenniferdhuri@gmail.com)

In Part 2, we shall be discussing about the Symptoms, Fortification and Supplementation.



Eat Healthy, Stay Healthy, SHINE!


Nidhi Pandey
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