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D is for Deficiency

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Lately, I had been coming back from work feeling generally fatigued and having lower back pains. I googled the symptoms and turns out, it’s quite likely that I may have a deficiency of vitamin D. But this is pure conjecture on my part. Dr Parul R Sheth, a health consultant specializing in reproductive biology, says, “The most accurate way to determine this deficiency is through a blood test — measuring the 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels. Blood tests for calcium and phosphate levels and liver function may also show changes linked to a low level of vitamin D”.

Regardless, my google search on vitamin D deficiency provided some very interesting and insightful results. A study revealed that around 70 per cent of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency with about 15 per cent having been found insufficient in vitamin D. And what is to blame? A fast-paced, stressed-filled corporate lifestyle. Therefore, it is imperative that one gets this test done.

It’s quite ironic that living in a country that gets ample sun exposure, one would acquire a deficiency in vitamin D. Moreover in India, staying in the sun for long hours is generally not recommended especially without the use of sunscreen. Many people take this advice a little too seriously and don’t step out in the sun at all! In fact these people also apply some sunscreen at home. In an attempt to avoid sun exposure, they completely deprive their body of sunlight — which is so essential for the human body to make vitamin D.

There are various problems that may arise due to such a deficiency—weak bones, greater susceptibility to fractures, and muscle weakness. In addition, it also increases the risk of having a heart disease. Fortunately, vitamin D is fairly easy to gain. Expose yourself to sunlight every morning without sunscreen. Eat fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, fish oils, egg yolks, fortified milk and other fortified foods such as cereals. Furthermore, many companies now sell supplements for vitamin D.

While being vitamin D deficient is a problem, there are disadvantages of too much vitamin D as well. Excess may cause health problems such as dehydration, vomiting, kidney damage and kidney stones.

Now what you do you need to do? Get the test done; start altering your dietary intake to ensure proper balance of nutrients, and do that Surya Namaskar that your granny has been recommending all this while.

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