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A complete guide for your understanding

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Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava

Did you know already?

    • Vitamin D is also a hormone
    • The body makes vitamin D naturally
    • Vitamin D is also called “Sunshine vitamin
    • The easiest way to get vitamin D is 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure
    • The best time to get vitamin D from the sun is between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
    • Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic in India as around 70 to 100% of the general population are vitamin D deficient


The “sun vitamin” is a fat-soluble vitamin that controls almost all physiological functions of the body. It is a workhorse nutrient and performs important functions such as absorbing calcium, strengthening bones, and improving it immunity. There are many forms of vitamin D, but the most important are Vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that protects you from a wide variety of health complications such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, various cancers, and even autoimmune diseases. However, despite all of these facts, there is a common misconception that the more vitamin D a person gets, the better. It is a dangerous idea to believe, as excessive intake of vitamin D3 can lead to serious health complications.

Vitamin D is biologically inert and its activation requires two processes. The first process takes place in the liver to convert vitamin D into a prohormone called ‘Calcidiol‘(Vitamin D stored in the body) and the second process takes place in the kidneys to convert calcidiol to a hormone called’Calcitriol‘.

In order to activate the existing vitamin D, experts recommend about 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This process has to be done at least twice a week and one should make sure that the face, hands, legs or back are exposed directly to the UV rays without sun protection. However, the required solar radiation depends strongly on the location, the season, the skin type, the exposed body parts, the age and the air quality in the area.

In this article, we discuss the factors that lead to vitamin D deficiency, its symptoms, the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, and how to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a very serious problem, especially in India. Some factors that lead to this condition are:

    • Too little vitamin D in your diet
    • Inability to get enough vitamin D from food
    • Reduced exposure to sunlight
    • Chronic kidney disease or chronic liver disease that affect vitamin D synthesis
    • Certain drugs that interfere with the process of vitamin D absorption and conversion

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency & Excess

The body can show certain symptoms when it is deficient in adequate amounts of vitamin D or when the nutrient is in excess (a rare condition). A body with vitamin D deficiency may or may not produce symptoms, or it may take several years for symptoms to manifest. However, it increases the chances of being affected by chronic diseases such as:

    • osteoporosis: A condition in which the bones become thin or fragile and can easily break as a result of minor trauma. The disease mainly affects the elderly.
    • Osteomalacia: The condition usually occurs in children and causes bone deformities, dental problems, brittle bones, and pain when walking.
    • A vitamin D deficiency can lead to depression.

Vitamin D toxicity is the condition in which the body receives excess vitamin D. The disease can show signs such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, weight loss, weakness, loss of appetite and also kidney damage and hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood). Hypercalcemia leads to confusion, disorientation and irregular heartbeat.

Functions of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is without a doubt one of the most important nutrients for the general wellbeing of the body. It performs several important functions, including:

    • Promote bone health and enable calcium absorption
    • Improve muscle health
    • Modulate the immune system
    • Promote cell growth
    • Reducing inflammation, which prevents rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis from occurring
    • Perform upgrade Cardiovascular health
    • Regulation of blood pressure

Who is at risk of vitamin D deficiency?

    • Breastfeeding Infants
    • People who take medicines that affect vitamin D synthesis
    • People with lymphoma (a type of cancer)
    • Older adults
    • People with dark skin
    • People who have Crohn’s disease or an autoimmune disease called celiac disease
    • Obese people
    • People who have had gastric bypass surgery
    • People with osteoporosis
    • People with chronic kidney or liver complications
    • People with Hyperthyroidism
    • People who smoke

Experts recommend getting medical help right away if you have any of the above risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.

Tips for increasing vitamin D levels

There are a few readily available foods that naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, including:

    • egg yolk
    • mushrooms
    • Milk, cheese, other dairy products
    • Breakfast cereals and oatmeal
    • orange
    • Soy drinks

Many multivitamin supplements contain vitamin D. There are also vitamin D supplements that can help cope with the deficiency. If a person is vitamin D deficient, they can, after consulting their doctor, take these supplements to improve vitamin D levels. The doctor will diagnose the condition and recommend the number of supplements to take and the length of the prescription followed.

Final thoughts

Vitamin D deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in India that requires medical attention as it can lead to serious health complications. The manifestation of vitamin D deficiency symptoms may last for years or not occur at all, so experts recommend that those responsible for the above risk factors should be checked for vitamin D levels regularly to identify any health complications related to avoid a vitamin D deficiency. If diagnosed early, the deficiency can also be treated with adequate sun exposure, certain foods, and dietary supplements.

Get Your Vitamin D Checked Today!

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