Health

Vitamin D: The Cheapest Way To Get Healthier!

“Vitamin D Deficiency in Covid-19 Quadrupled Death Rate”: Medscape.

Jaadu from the movie “Koi Mil Gaya” could not function without the sun. All his powers would vanish if he did not get sun even for a day. You might think that “Thank God, it happens to aliens only, not to us humans!”

But you are in for a surprise.

The sun plays an equally important role in our lives too. Without the sun, our body’s ability diminishes on all levels. The impact for us is not seen in a day, but the impact is definitely significant. Vitamin D deficiency could lead to multiple problems in the body:

  1. Weak immune system and hence higher chances of falling sick
  2. Cancer
  3. Sleep apnea
  4. Diabetes
  5. Loss of bone density, osteoporosis, and broken bones
  6. Muscle weakness
  7. High BP, heart disease
  8. Depression, schizophrenia

The list is endless. But I hope you get the point. I can write keep on writing about Vitamin D, but I am not going to do that. I will only share the most relevant and important information with you.

What is alarming is that most of us are highly deficient in it.

The data of our clients shows that 80% of Indians living in urban areas are deficient in vitamin D  and 95% do not have optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Sun is the biggest source of Vitamin D. For practical purposes, it’s the only source.

Due to urbanisation and our current lifestyle, we hardly spend time in the sun. Also, as Indians, we absorb less Vitamin D (dark skin leads to low absorption of Vitamin D from the sun). And the use of sunscreen blocks the remaining chances of us getting any vitamin D.

Suggested Read – Importance of Vitamin D

How to Know Whether You Are Deficient in Vitamin D?

There is a very simple blood test for Vitamin D. It will be part of the most comprehensive blood tests that you should take regularly. You can also book a Vitamin D test separately which should cost you around Rs 500. It’s a must-do test for everyone.

What Should Be My Vitamin D Levels?

The standard range for Vitamin D is >30 ng/mL. But the optimal range is 50-100 ng/mL. Read this article to know what are optimal levels.

What to Do if You Are Deficient in Vitamin D?

Sun is the primary source of Vitamin D. To get enough Vitamin D, you may have to spend 20-30 minutes (4-6 days in a week) in the sun with 25% of your body exposed. Ideally between 11 am-2 pm when the sun is at its peak. It may not be practical for most people to spend so much time in the sun. Though you should try and spend more time in the sun as no food or supplement can ever fully replace the sun for us.

There are some foods like salmon, tuna, etc. which have Vitamin D, but it’s not practical to get enough Vitamin D from them. 

So, the best solution is supplements. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommends a daily supplement of 400 IU/day of vitamin D for Indians. But this level is too low to make up for any deficiency. I usually take 60,000 IU sachets once a week for 3 months in a year (along with some multivitamins which give me 400IU daily). 

A few years back, I was diagnosed with very low levels of Vitamin D and I also took a Vitamin D injection of 600,000 IU. So, 1 injection was more than 4 years of my daily recommendation. And I had to take two of them to bring my Vitamin D levels to optimal range. You need to talk to a medical practitioner to decide the dosage and to take the supplement (which is widely available in all pharmacies). But I can tell you one thing, if you have low vitamin D levels (and are not taking enough sunlight) and you follow ICMR’s recommendation, then at least in this life, you would not be able to cover up your deficiencies. 

1 sachet of 60,000 IU sachet costs ~Rs 50. You might need 10-20 sachets to make up for the deficiency. So for as little as Rs 500-1000, you would be able to prevent so many diseases and feel so much healthier. It’s the best expenditure you will ever make. 

That’s why I believe it’s the cheapest way to get healthier. Sun is absolutely free. And if you need to take a supplement, you can easily do that without burning a hole in your pocket. That’s probably a reason why most doctors don’t care about it.

The Medical System May Not Care About Your Health. But You Must!

I will close this blog with my personal story with a doctor. In 2012, I figured out my vitamin D levels were just 3. Lowest I have ever seen for anyone. I google and found a doctor in Hyderabad who was an expert in Vitamin D and had given seminars on the subject. I went to him and he looked at the report and asked me, “Why did you get this test done?” I said, “as a regular health checkup.” He shouted at me and said “People are dying of so many diseases like TB, cancer, etc. And you are wasting my time on such trivial matters.” And he literally threw me away without advising me of any solution. That’s the state of affairs. Doctors don’t care about the root cause of the disease. Only when the same deficiency leads to a bigger problem like BP, diabetes, etc. then the patient is of interest. There is no money in Vitamin D, but only in managing symptoms of chronic diseases. 

Your doctor may not be interested in your health. But you should be. After all, it’s your health and you’ll have to do what’s best for it.

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Vishnu Saraf

Co-founder & CEO Possible. SRCC, IIM-Ahmedabad, McKinsey, Deutsche Bank, 101 Global Healthcare Leader Award from World Health Congress, a certified NLP practitioner, authored 3 books.

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