BENGALURU: Popularly known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin ‘D’ belongs to the fat soluble family of vitamins. Direct sunlight exposure on our body triggers the production of Vitamin D naturally. This essential vitamin is also found in a few animal sources of food as well. The bio-active forms of this vitamin are Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.
Importance of Vitamin D
While it is well known that Vitamin D is very essential for a healthy bone development and maintenance in the body, it also helps in regulating blood pressure and protects against diabetics. Ongoing research shows that it has an important role in preventing mental depression, heart disease and many other health issues.
Vitamin D deficiency
Increasingly, more Indians are getting less exposure to sunlight with the changes in lifestyle and living habits. Many avoid exposure to sunlight with sun screen lotions and by covering the entire body when stepping out. And 90 per cent of the time, they either spend time indoors or inside air conditioned work spaces, increasing the chances of being deficient of this essential vitamin.
As per survey and reports, over 60 per cent of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency and the majority of them are unaware of it. Also our dietary food does not contain sources of vitamin D unlike in the western countries where vitamin D is a fortified food in items such as cereals, egg, milk and curds apart from regular meat products. We, in India, have less exposure to sun and do not have adequate sources of fortified vitamin D food as well.
Making India vitamin D positive
Along with more exposure to natural sun light, it is also essential to include food sources rich in Vitamin D. But in India, with the increasing vegan community who shun milk and related products, the threat of vitamin D deficiency is getting higher.
The author is a nutrition researcher & lifestyle/ anti-aging consultant.