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Winter chills make us shiver, and being tucked inside blankets and shawls is our way to beat it. But this season increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency and infections. Getting enough vitamin D is essential to your long-term health. It may be relatively easier to get it through sun exposure most of the year, but that can change when it’s wintertime, unless you have the time to soak in the sun!
Sunscreen creams, darker skin pigmentation, full sleeves clothing, and less sunlight exposure lead to reduced vitamin D intake, says Dr Sudha Menon, Director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.
Getting due sun exposure in the winter months can be difficult and that’s why you need to be very careful with your vitamin D daily intake during this time. So how much should we take? Should you go for supplements? And if not, where to get vitamin D in winter?
Calcium is well-known for its importance in maintaining healthy bones. As a result, calcium alone is insufficient. Vitamin D is needed. “Your bones’ health may be jeopardized if you don’t get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium from meals and beverages,” says Dr Menon.
Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency affect 76 percent of Indians, according to a study published in the International Journal of Research in Orthopaedics in 2020. This is a significant and concerning figure.
Dr Menon says, “Indian skin has a higher level of melanin, which limits the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D. Then there’s the issue of inadequate solar exposure, which leads to Vitamin D insufficiency.”
Another reason could be related to diet, as most Indians are vegetarians, notes Dr Menon. “There aren’t many vegetarian foods that are vitamin D-rich. As a result, vegetarians are in greater danger. A primary source of concern is an unhealthy body weight. Obese adults, according to multiple studies, have a higher risk of Vitamin D insufficiency,” she adds.
You can include milk and milk products, fish oil, mushrooms, and egg yolk in your regular diet when it comes to food. Apart from food, sunlight exposure should be your top priority. A minimum of 15-20 minutes of early-morning sun exposure is required.
Vitamin D insufficiency causes several undesirable side effects. Bone pain and back discomfort (clearly), lethargy, tiredness, frequent infections, delayed wound healing, hair fall, muscle pain, and anxiety are some of them. If you have a couple of these symptoms, your Vitamin D levels should be examined.
Vitamin D supplements are typically provided to pregnant women, newborns, women in menopause, and anyone over 65. Supplements should only be taken if your doctor has prescribed them. Finally, maintain adequate quantities of Vitamin D in your body to keep your bones, hair, mental health, and immune system in good shape. All you have to do is eat foods high in vitamin D. Maintain healthy body weight and look out for Vitamin D insufficiency signs before it’s too late by sitting in the sun for at least 15-20 minutes per day.