Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vitamin D Facts

1.     In building bone, calcium has an indispensable assistant: vitamin D.
2.     Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium,
3.     Increasing vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.
4.      A small amount of sun exposure can help the body manufacture its own vitamin D
5.     Five to 30 minutes of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week to your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen will enable you to make enough of the vitamin.
6.     People with fair skin that burns easily should protect themselves from skin cancer by limiting sun exposure to 10 minutes or less.
7.      Food and sun exposure should suffice, but if not, get 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily from a supplement.
Commentary: There is a lot of "pharma interest" in Vit D, and we have had a large number of preparations (drops, tablets, powders etc.) in multiple strengths being marketed for preventing and treating Vit D Deficiency. While conventional wisdom was that due to sunlight tropical countries are unlikely to suffer from serious Vit D Deficiencies, the reality has turned out to be different. Due to many factors, including pollution, dark skin, our aversion to sunlight exposure, lifestyle changes etc. there is an apparent epidemic of Vit D deficiency. Even though experts are still debating about the normal values of Vit D for Indian population, the large number of people with Osteoporosis (weak bones) and fractures occurring in even youngsters points to a definite problem related to poor calcium absorption that occurs in the absence / deficiency of Vit D.
The above mentioned tips are important for preventing & treating Vit D deficiency, it is probably more practicable to take supplements of Vit D (not the usual Calcium pill) after consulting your doctor. A weekly course of Vit D packets (costing 20-25 rupees each) for 8-12 weeks is helpful for most people, and then they may need to take this monthly for an even longer period of time. However, this & any other treatment should ONLY be started after talking to your doctor.

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