How Important Is The “Sunshine Vitamin” For Women’s Health?

By Arunima Singh

Vitamin D3 or the “sunshine vitamin” is emerging as one of the most important nutrients for women’s health. Vitamins D is a pro hormone, which is synthesised by the action of UV light exposure on 7- dehydrocholesterol present in our skin. Vitamin D itself is in an ineffective form , It is concentrated in the liver and in minute quantities in skin , lungs , brain, spleen and kidneys.

In the liver vitamin D is hydroxylated to 25 hydroxy Vitamin D3. It is also known as 25-hydroxyl cholecalciferol. From the blood stream Vitamin D3 reaches kidney where it is further hydroxylated to form 25 -dihydroxy cholecalciferol which is the active form of vitamin D.

Traditionally, vitamin D3 was considered important in promoting the absorption of calcium and other bone mineral metabolism over the course of our lifetime and an inadequate proportion lead to osteoporosis and osteomalacia in women,  but researchers over the years now consider it important in all cell functions and immune functions and also its potential role in the prevention and treatment of certain cancers , auto immune disease , heart disease inflammation and other chronic diseases.

According to Dr Nupur Mittal, Gyne & obstetrician, Medicare hospital, Vitamin D apart from its role in calcium absorption and bone health, vitamin D receptors have been found in immune cells , cardiac muscles, brain, breasts, colon.

Most women (9/10) are found Vitamin D deficient when tested, which is result of our urban lifestyle , change in weather  conditions, higher pollution levels as the sunlight is not available in the desired range, lack of cholesterol in our skin, presence of melanin in our skin, vegetarian diet are few to name. Women of any age group , social economic background , culture can get affected.

As Dr Nupur suggest, the first step towards attaining a right range of vitamin D is to get tested for vitD serum & B12 serum, and get the required medical consultation if found deficient . Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of coronary artery disease, hypertension, Type 1 diabetes and depression in some women.

The deficiency is easily treatable, apart from the regular natural source the sunlight and dietary sources like fish liver oil, egg yolk, salmon, tuna, milk, butter & ghee, Doctors mostly recommend a loading dose and then a 60000 IU capsule once a month for lifetime to maintain the vitamin D levels. She explains how vitamin D has been a proven adjunct in therapies in many cases of women suffering from Tuberculosis, Psoriasis, multiple sclerosis & certain cancers apart from just aiding calcium absorption it’s the most important nutrient for all cell functions. Women should consciously take the responsibility of keeping the Vitamin D levels in the prescribed range for an optimum body function and a healthy life.

(Arunima Singh is a TV journalist. Her area of interests includes public health, human rights, geopolitics. She has also volunteered with many NGOs in Indore.)

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