Below are mentioned various medical health articles, written by me for the general awareness of society and published in the lieu of public welfare.
Do you get enough of ‘The Sunlight Vitamin (D)’ ?
Over the years, a change in our lifestyle has led to increasing instances of Vitamin D deficiency among us. While it may not impact us directly in the short term, it has a detrimental effect on the human body over a period of time.
Vitamin D is required for the regulation of the minerals, calcium and phosphorus found in the body. It also plays an important role in maintaining proper bone structure. It is produced through the action of ultraviolet irradiation (UV) on its precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol. Our skin makes vitamin D3 by exposure of the skin to UV rays. What makes vitamin D unique compared to other vitamins, is that when your body gets its vitamin D, it turns vitamin D into a hormone. This hormone is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.”
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. It’s also an important factor in making sure your muscles, heart, lungs and brain work well and that your body can fight infection.
Causes and Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you might expect. Severe vitamin D deficiency can cause a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, a disease which reduces calcium absorption and increases calcium loss from the bone thereby causing soft, thin, and brittle bones, leading to bending of the spine, bowing of the legs, proximal muscle weakness, bone fragility, and increased risk for fractures. If you shun the sun, suffer from milk allergies or adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
How to get more of Vitamin D?
Most of the natural sources of Vitamin D are animal based, including fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, beef liver, cheese, fortified milk, dairy, grain products. To increase the vitamin’s availability, it is added to dairy products, juices and cereals that are sold out as products “fortified with vitamin D”. But most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D, unlike most other vitamins, can be produced within the body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Exposure of the hands, face, arms, and legs to sunlight two to three times a week for about one-fourth of the time it would take to develop mild sunburn helps the skin to produce enough vitamin D.
It’s amazing how quickly adequate levels of vitamin D can be restored by sunlight. 6 days of casual sunlight exposure without sunscreen can make up for 49 days of no sunlight exposure. Body fat acts like a storage battery for vitamin D. During periods of sunlight, vitamin D is stored in fatty fat and then released when sunlight is gone.
Vitamin D is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in recommended amounts. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. However, please consult a doctor before you take it as a supplement as dosage levels requirements vary for individuals.
What does vitamin D do?
Researchers are now discovering that vitamin D may be important for many other reasons outside of good bone health.
- It is used for treating and preventing:
- It is used for boosting the immune system, which helps you to fight infection
- Cardiovascular function: It is effective in maintaining healthy conditions of the heart and blood vessels, including high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of death from cardio vascular diseases.
- Respiratory system: The vitamin is helpful for healthy lungs and airways including prevention and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, severe asthma in children
- It enhances brain development
- It is used for obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and tooth and gum disease.
- It has Anti-cancer effects
- It prevents Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Researchers suggest that lack of vitamin D has also been linked to some other conditions such as type-II diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s and type-I diabetes
- Some people use vitamin D for skin conditions including vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, and lupus vulgaris.
Doctors are still working to fully understand how vitamin D works within your body and how it affects your overall health.
Vitamin D Toxicity – When too much of Vitamin D is bad for you.
Vitamin D overdose causes hypercalcemia which if not treated, results in excess deposits of calcium in soft tissues and organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, resulting in pain and organ damage.
Symptoms include: Weakness, fatigue, Anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, frequently followed by excessive urination, increased thirst, weakness, insomnia, nervousness, pruritus, and, ultimately, renal failure.
Other symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include mental retardation in young children, abnormal bone growth and formation, diarrhea, irritability, weight loss, and severe depression.
Vitamin D toxicity is usually treated by discontinuing vitamin D supplementation and restricting calcium intake. Exposure to sunlight for extended periods of time does not normally cause vitamin D toxicity. Within about 20 minutes of ultraviolet exposure in light-skinned individuals (3–6 times longer for pigmented skin), the concentrations of vitamin D precursors produced in the skin reach an equilibrium, and any further vitamin D that is produced is degraded.
Dr. G Sugandh, an MD who has specialised in Forensic Medicine and is a Medico legal consultant. She is a resident of The Icon in DLF5, Gurgaon and has a keen interest in writing on medical topics and also regularly contributes to various journals. Her hobbies include travelling and exploring new places and she maintains a travel blog at ”atravellersdiary.com”.
Hypertension also known as high blood pressure (BP) is a chronic and serious medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated higher than 140 over 90 mm of Hg . Hypertension can strain the heart, damage the blood vessels and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and death.