Back in our school days, we studied the significance of various vitamins within our bodies. But, as adults, we are quick to forget these invaluable lessons and rather than obtain our vitamins and minerals from natural sources, we make taking multivitamin supplements a habit. 

We all learned that vitamin D, a fat-soluble nutrient crucial for absorbing and retaining calcium and phosphorus, plays a vital role in building sturdy bones. In addition, this vitamin supports our immune system, and a deficiency can contribute to depression besides several other ailments.

During the onslaught of the dreaded Covid wave across the globe, numerous studies highlighted the role of Vitamin D in preventing severe Covid. A majority of the studies suggested a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and severity of Covid.

The body synthesizes its own vitamin D from direct exposure to sunlight. It may be labelled a vitamin, but it also functions as a hormone produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. For those lacking sufficient sun exposure, certain foods like fish and egg yolks serve as alternative sources and diehard vegetarians can obtain it from mushrooms.

Arjun Pereira

Typically, it is seen that schoolgoing children who enjoy outdoor play during recess and also spend time outdoors for assembly and PT and games periods often get ample sun exposure. But during holidays, these same students remain huddled indoors in front of their TVs, Play Stations and mobiles. Even WHO recommends daily outdoor activity for growing children. This ensures sun exposure every day.

The general recommendation for fair-skinned folk is 10 to 30 minutes of midday sun exposure. Individuals with darker skin tones however require more. In hot climates where midday sun may be impractical, morning sun exposure is considered acceptable. Aim for sun exposure at least five times a week.

If you are unsure whether you are getting adequate Vitamin D, then go in for a blood test, specifically the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. The recommended range is between 20 and 40. If you are lacking in Vitamin D, your doctor may recommend sun exposure plus Vitamin D3 tablets weekly, followed by a maintenance dose.

An increasing number of Indians now report low vitamin D levels, and this can eventually lead to conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, and depression. If you find yourself indoors with sunlight streaming through a window, ensure the glass panes are open to allow sun’s rays to hit you directly.

Exposure to vitamin D releases serotonin, a hormone that influences happiness, mood, sleep, and eating patterns. That’s the reason why sitting indoors through those long winter months could lead to seasonal depression. As spring commences, one automatically gets a bounce in one’s step as people cheer up visibly.

Physical symptoms of low vitamin D include fatigue, bone pain, muscle discomfort, cramps, weakness, and low moods. If you feel any of these symptoms, now is the time to wake up and head outdoors for a daily dose of some invigorating sunlight. 

Arjun Pereira, a writer and editor, is also a singer, composer, lyricist and guitarist. He loves the outdoors and is often seen enjoying a vigorous game of tennis both mornings and evenings. He has worked for several leading publishing houses and corporates and loves to travel, soaking in new experiences and cultures.

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