Vitamin D is one of the most important minerals required by the body. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin which is produced by the body when exposed to the sun. Besides, there are many foods available which are a rich source of Vitamin D. Our body requires enough Vitamin D for the maintenance of bones and teeth, boosting the immune system, maintenance of nervous system, regulation of insulin levels, and supporting the functioning of lungs and our cardiovascular health.
What is Vitamin D?
Despite how it may seem, Vitamin D is a pro-hormone (and not a vitamin) produced by the body. Unlike any other vitamin, our body can synthesise Vitamin D on being exposed to the sun. Being under sun’s exposure for around 10 minutes around 3 times a week can produce sufficient Vitamin D. But the supply of Vitamin D in the body can run low since it breaks down quickly.
Health benefits of Vitamin D
1. Healthy bones
To maintain the health of bones, it is important to have sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. Availability of Vitamin D helps in regulating levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
Deficiency of Vitamin D can cause a disease known as rickets. The disease softens bones and makes one bow-legged. In adults, Vitamin D
In adults, deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases in post-menopausal women.
2. Prevents cancer
Vitamin D is essential for the regulation of cell growth and their communication. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D slow down the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue and increases death of cancer cells.
3. Reduces risk of diabetes
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D in the body can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes. People suffering from type 2 diabetes will have a negative impact on insulin secretion if their Vitamin D levels are lower than required.
4. Reduces risk of flu
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D helps in reducing risks of diseases like flu.
5. Ensures healthy pregnancy
Vitamin D is considered as an essential requirement for healthy pregnancy. Deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnant women can increase chances of caesarean section. Bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes are other risks posed by deficiency of Vitamin D in pregnant women.
However, the levels need to be regulated as high levels of Vitamin D can make the child prone to food allergies during the first 2 years after birth.
Vitamin D deficiency
Even though the body creates Vitamin D, the deficiency can occur because of reasons like darker skin colour or excessive use of sunscreen. Sunscreens with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 are capable of reducing body’s ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
For producing Vitamin D, the body has to be directly exposed to sunlight and not covered by it.
Also, people who stay at northern altitudes or places with high pollution can also be deficient in Vitamin D. They can extract Vitamin D from food sources.
While Vitamin D supplements can be consumed as well, it is recommended to take Vitamin D from as natural sources as possible.
Deficiency of Vitamin D can increase risk of cardiovascular diseases, autism, hypertension, Alzheimer’s diseases, asthma, swine flu and multiple sclerosis to name a few.
Symptoms of deficiency of Vitamin D
Some common symptoms of Vitamin D include poor immune system which makes you fall sick too often; constantly feeling tired or fatigue; pain in the bones and back; depressed mood; slower healing of wounds; loss of hair and muscle pain.
If the deficiency of Vitamin D continues for a long period of time, it can lead to conditions like obesity, diabetes, depression, hypertension, chronic fatigue symptoms, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Recommended intake of Vitamin D
According to the US Institutes of Medicine, the recommended intake of infants upto 12 months is 10 micrograms (mcg), 15 mcgs in children from 1 to 18 years of age, 15 mcg in adult upto the age of 70 and 20 mcg in adults over 70 years of age. Pregnant or lactating women should get at least 15 mcg of Vitamin D.
Food sources of Vitamin D
Fish oil and fatty fish are considered to be good sources of Vitamin D. Besides, cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, fortified skimmed milk, tuna, eggs and chicken are all foods rich in Vitamin D.
Health risks of consuming too much Vitamin D
If Vitamin D is consumed in excess amounts, it can lead to over calcification of bones, and hardening of kidneys, blood vessels, lungs and heart. Also, consuming Vitamin D in excess amounts can lead to conditions like headache, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation and diarrhoea to name a few.
So, instead of focusing in one particular mineral, one should focus on consuming a balanced diet which includes a variety of minerals.
The Perfect Guide To Take Care Of Your Arthritic Knee
A certain nip in the air, frequent urge for a steaming cup of tea and an endearing love for sleeping a little longer inside the snuggly quilt is back. The season of blankets, warmers and soups is here! While it brings with itself festive spirit and joy, it is dreaded by the elderly and arthritis patients for it increases their difficulty. With a dip in the mercury, many patients experience increased knee pain, stiffness and unease due to restricted bodily circulations and elasticity of soft tissues caused by atmospheric pressure. Often mistaken as age-related wear and tear or seasonal change, it could be potential signs of arthritis inflammation of the joints and seek medical intervention
Timely clinical advice and necessary precautions can go a long way in managing this pain that aggravates with the onset of winter. It can be addressed by making certain lifestyle changes.
“People tend to become lazy in winters. This can impact the knees and increase the level of pain in cases where people are already undergoing arthritis treatment.A regular 30-minute workout can help lubricate the joints and stimulate blood circulation in the body,” stressed Dr. Dhananjay Gupta, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.
“Staying active is the key to strengthen the muscles supporting the joint, thereby helping in improved joint function. Along with exercises, staying hydrated can control wear and tear of joints,” he added.
For those suffering from chronic knee pain or knee arthritis, the cold can be worse for the joints. But, if the pain is acute and knee arthritis is in the chronic or degenerative stage, one can consider Total Knee Replacement (TKR) therapy.
Sharing his take on the effectiveness of the therapy, Dr.Gupta shared, “When all the alternate treatments such as medications, arthroscopic interventions fail to provide relief to the patients, a TKR therapy is advised. It is the last option for treating severely impaired knees and is one of the safest orthopedic procedures.By replacing a diseased knee cap with a sturdy implant, it not only helps relieve pain, restores knee function but also improves the individual’s quality of life significantly. With a strict physiotherapy routine, a patient can be completely mobile within 6 weeks of the procedure.”
Take precautionary measures. Sometimes, patients who have sought clinical advice or had a knee surgery in the past, experience pain during winters. A visit to the doctor will help you understand the symptoms better. The medical expert will analyse your medical profile and prescribe precautions accordingly- workouts, physiotherapy, proper diet, supplements etc. to strengthen bones during winters.An active lifestyle can keep joint pain away, especially for arthritis patients. Don’t let the cold wave outdoor deter you from exercise. Push yourself to take small walk breaks at work or while lounging around at home to keep your weight under control.There is nothing that heals the joints like Vitamin D does. Get as much sun as possible to fuel aching joints. And regulate your diet with nutritious and vitamin rich foods such as orange, spinach, broccoli, dairy products and dry fruits.A knee joint takes maximum stress than any other joint, so instead of wearing heavy sweaters and cardigans that can add up to your body weight chose layering of light yet warm clothes.Joint movement improves blood circulation to its peripheral areas leading to reduced stiffness. So, move out of your blankets to stretch and move around a little.
Eat more dietary fibre to lower risk of non-communicable diseases
Here’s another reason why you should increase your consumption of dietary fibre!
According to a recent study, high intake of dietary fibre and whole grains is linked to reduced risk of non-communicable diseases as compared to people who eat lesser amounts.
Fibre rich fruits include bananas, oranges, apples, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries, while beans, legumes or darker coloured vegetables too have high-fibre content.
Furthermore, whole grain breads or nuts like almonds, pistachios or pumpkin and sunflower seeds too have a high-fibre content in them.
The findings appear in the journal The Lancet.
Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fibre a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
The results suggest a 15-30 per cent decrease in all-cause and cardiovascular related mortality when comparing people who eat the highest amount of fibre to those who eat the least. Eating fibre-rich foods also reduced incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer by 16-24 per cent.
In addition, a meta-analysis of clinical trials suggested that increasing fibre intakes was associated with lower bodyweight and cholesterol, compared with lower intakes.
The study was commissioned by the World Health Organisation to inform the development of new recommendations for optimal daily fibre intake and to determine which types of carbohydrate provide the best protection against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and weight gain.
Speaking about it, Professor Jim Mann, corresponding author at the University of Otago, New Zealand said, “Our findings provide convincing evidence for nutrition guidelines to focus on increasing dietary fibre and on replacing refined grains with whole grains. This reduces incidence risk and mortality from a broad range of important diseases.”
The study also found that diets with a low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load provided limited support for protection against type 2 diabetes and stroke only.
Foods with a low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load may also contain added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. This may account for the links to health being less clear.
Researchers study patterns of back pain
Researchers have examined the patterns of back pain over time and patient characteristics in relation to the disability.
In addition, they have identified the extent of healthcare and medication use (including opioids) associated with different patterns.
Back pain is among the most frequently reported health problems in the world.
For the study, researchers from the University Health Network’s Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada studied 12,782 participants for 16 years.
They provided data on factors including comorbidities, pain, disability, opioid and other medication use, and healthcare visits.
The results showed that almost half (45.6 per cent) of the participants reported back pain at least once.
The study included four groups of pain: persistent (18 per cent), developing (28.1 per cent), recovery (20.5 per cent), and occasional (33.4 per cent).
The findings, published in Arthritis Care and Research, showed that the persistent and developing groups tended to have more pain and disability, as well as more healthcare visits and medication use than those in the recovery and occasional trajectory groups.
In addition, the recovery trajectory group increased the use of opioids and antidepressants over time.
“The good news is that one in five people with back pain recovered. However, they continued to use opioids and antidepressants, suggesting that people recovering from back pain need ongoing monitoring,” said lead author Mayilee Canizares, postdoctoral candidate from the varsity.
The bad news is that one in five experienced persistent back pain, said Canizares.
People with back pain are a heterogeneous group that may benefit from different approaches to management rather than a traditional one size fits all approach.The distinct groups identified in the study may represent opportunities for more individualised treatment and preventative strategies, Canizares noted.