How To Increase Vitamin D | Hea Boosters
Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients that your body produces on its own. It is made when your skin is exposed to sunlight but can also be sourced from certain foods.
However, 80% of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiencies. This is partly because people have been spending less time outdoors and partly because our diet often tends to exclude foods that are rich in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient that the body requires for many processes including building and maintaining strong bones. This fat-soluble vitamin fundamentally helps in the absorption of calcium, bone growth, and mineralization. It also plays a critical role in the immune system, digestion, and heart function.
Research suggests that vitamin D helps in the prevention of various illnesses, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Type 1 diabetes and heart disease. Thus maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin D is imperative for the optimal function of almost all the systems in your body. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D is 10 micrograms per day.
Most people do not even realize that their vitamin D levels are low until they get tested, because the symptoms of such a deficiency can be rather unspecific (fatigue, exhaustion, lethargy, hair fall, frequently falling sick, etc) and vary greatly in terms of their presentation.
Since it is always better to err on the side of caution, here are a few ways to maintain and increase your Vitamin D levels:
Spend time in sunlight:
Vitamin D is commonly referred to as "the sunshine vitamin" because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays help with its synthesis from cholesterol stored in the skin cells. However, optimum absorption of UV rays and this subsequent production of Vitamin D in sufficient quantities depends on several parameters such as one’s skin tone, geographical location, degree and area of skin exposure, age etc. The best time to soak get some sunlight is between 10 am to 3 pm. During this time, the UVB rays are intense, and it is also said that the body is more efficient in making vitamin D.
Vitamin D exists in two primary biological forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Generally, D2 is obtained from plants and D3 from animal sources. The body converts both of these forms into 25-hydroxyvitamin D which is then utilized by the body.
Fatty fish and seafood are one of the richest natural food sources of vitamin D. Seafood are also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, hilsa, mackerel, oysters and salmons). A can (100 gms) of tuna contains approximately 13.85 micrograms, which is 1.25% of the daily value.
Add UV treated mushrooms to your diet:
Mushrooms are the only vegetarian and vegan source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can also make their own vitamin D when exposed to UV light. Mushrooms provide as much as 0.175 mcg per cup (roughly 100gm serving), which is 1.7% of the daily value.
Taking a vitamin D supplement is one of the easiest ways to ensure an adequate intake and correct deficiencies. When choosing oral supplements, be sure to pick the ones that give you 100% of your daily Vitamin D requirement.
Consume fortified foods:
Natural sources of vitamin D are limited, especially for vegetarians or people who don't like eating fish. However, some food products that don't naturally contain vitamin D can be fortified with this nutrient such as:
- Fortified milk: A cup (237 ml) typically contains 2.6-2.9 micrograms of vitamin D. A cup of fortified soy milk can fulfil 26% - 29% of the daily requirement.
- Fortified Orange juice: A cup (237 ml) of orange juice can start your day off with up to 2.5 micrograms of vitamin D. This is approximately 25% of the daily requirement.
With our transition to the new and prevalent digital age, the amount of time we spend outdoors during the day has reduced significantly. However, now that we have proof of the fact that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, enjoying some time in the sun should definitely be an activity that makes its way onto your daily to-do list.
Since this is a fat-soluble vitamin, including an adequate amount of fat in your diet helps in better absorption of vitamin D (This holds true for any form of vitamin D that is ingested through both natural sources and supplements).
If you are low in Vitamin D, you are likely to experience lethargy, hair fall, and poor immunity. Paying attention to the signals that your body sends you, and recognizing these symptoms will help you address the concern sooner. So do take care of your Vitamin D levels for a healthy, happy life.