Basking in the sun for healthy bones

Many of us are well-versed with the fact that adequate calcium is required for building healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. But did we know that absorption of calcium in our body is pos

Published: 18th January 2012 03:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:16 PM   |  A+A-

Many of us are well-versed with the fact that adequate calcium is required for building healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. But did we know that absorption of calcium in our body is possible only when there is sufficient intake of Vitamin D — on exposure to sunlight. This promotes the absorption of calcium and regulates calcium in the blood and deposition in bones.

Vitamin D deficiency can be an important contributing factor for osteoporosis, a disease in which the density and quality of bone is reduced, increasing the risk of fracture. Without sufficient vitamin D, calcium absorption cannot be maximised leading to osteoporotic fractures.

Even the study states that it affects around one in three women and one in five men around the world as the bones become more porous and fragile, the risk of fracture are greatly increased. The hip and wrist are most susceptible, and crumbling of the spine is common in osteoporosis as well. The incidence of these fractures, particularly at the hip and spine, increases with age in both women and men.

According to the recently published data, the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is a major factor in the low bone mineral density (BMD) and poor bone health of Indians. Study on Osteoporosis in Indians also demonstrates that this high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency exists across both in urban and semi-urban Indians.

Emphasising on the importance of sunlight exposure which is great source of vitamin D,  Dr C V Harinarayan, chief consultant endocrinologist and specialist in metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis, Fortis Hospital says, “Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium. If  vitamin D is low, calcium is not absorbed in the body and with low dietary calcium intake and low vitamin D, nothing is absorbed the body which make the bone week.”

Suggesting regular exposure to sunlight, he says that exposing the face and forearms daily for an hour between 11 am and 3 pm without wearing any sunscreen help in the maximum intake of vitamin D.

Dr Gaurav Sharma, professor of orthopedics, St John’s medical college and Hospital echoes the same and says early morning exposure to sunlight is essential for calcium absorption. Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin by the sunlight exposure.

Besides, osteoporosis patients should be assessed for vitamin D level through blood tests.

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