With nose-diving temperatures and deficient sunlight, natural absorption of vitamin D during winter season is far cry. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in several body functions including development and calcification of the bones. A deficiency of this key vitamin can cause an array of complicated health conditions such as hypocalcemia, rickets, hypophosphatemia, and osteomalacia. Moreover, inadequate vitamin D also leads to reduced absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Besides, strengthening our immune system, Vitamin D helps in keeping viruses such as common cold and flu strains at bay, especially during the winter months.
As recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and FDA, the standard intake levels for vitamin D are set at 1,000 IU per day for adults and 2,000 IU per day for pregnant and lactating women. Multiple other studies conducted by various agencies have confirmed that a higher intake level of Vitamin D is effective in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer in women by 50%. With so many health benefits, it is imperative to obtain this essential vitamin through other methods, particularly in winter.
- Generous exposure to UVB rays from the sun helps in making Vitamin D under the skin. As affirmed by qualified consultant, internal medicine at Rockland Hospital, Dr. Vaibhav Gupta, “At least 15-20 minutes outdoors in the sun, preferably without sunscreen, is optimum to meet the daily requirements of Vitamin D in adults.
- Additional intake of foods rich in vitamin D is recommended, especially during winter. Salmon, sardines, shrimp, milk, mushrooms and eggs are commonly considered as rich in vitamin D.
- Opting for food products fortified with vitamin D such as cereals, bread, milk is also a good idea.
- The most cost-effective form of natural vitamin D easily available in the market is found in cod liver oil. Reckoned as a rich source of vitamin A as well, cod liver oil is beneficial in promoting both bone growth and natural immunity.
- The most adapted way to avert vitamin D deficiency especially during winter is through supplements. These supplements are prescribed depending upon factors such as age, skin color, sun exposure, and any underlying medical problems. It is also believed that people with dark complexions require extra exposure of sun to produce minimal amounts of vitamin D during winter months.
Supplements are particularly handy in curing vitamin D deficiency in such conditions. The most common forms of vitamin D supplements available in the market include ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). However, it is suggested to procure vitamin D3 vis-à-vis vitamin D2 since vitamin D3 is known to be the naturally occurring form of the vitamin which revs up the vitamin D levels of the body far more capably.
Although vitamin D absorbed through the sun naturally is the best, some people located in extremely cold countries which get almost no sun for long durations opt for Vitamin D intake through tanning salons. However, most health experts are unanimous in advising against this solution as the UV tanning rays are known to raise the risk of skin cancer potentially.
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