The importance of vitamins

Thursday, 24 April 2014 - 7:10am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

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Vitamin deficiency is common among most of us but the presence of their deficiency seems to have spiked in the current population. Is this a result of our lifestyle today or a sudden awareness or scientific advances which now allow us to check and evaluate these vitamins, I'm not quite sure. But all the above seem to play some role in the growing number of individuals suffering from Vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency is now recognised as a global pandemic. The major cause of D3 deficiency is the lack of sun exposure. Inspite of being a tropical country, more than 80 per cent of healthy Indians are D3 deficient.

The most important role of D3 in our body is to maintain blood levels of calcium. Therefore, it is recommended that it should be supplemented along with calcium. D3 is necessary for treating weak bones, improving the immune system and for skin conditions. D3 deficiency has been associated with increased risk of joint pain, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension and weight gain.

Very few foods naturally contain D3, and foods that are fortified with it are often inadequate to satisfy either a child's or an adult's requirement. Vitamin D3 can be found in small amounts in very few foods (for e.g. fatty fish like tuna & betki). Most of it, 80 to 90 per cent of what the body gets is obtained through exposure to sunlight.

B12 is important for the body as it helps in making the DNA and red blood cells. It is present in abundance in animal-derived foods like fish, shellfish, red meat, turkey, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. B12 is not present in plant foods unless fortified. Strict vegetarian and vegans may need to consume supplemental B12 or include foods fortified with this nutrient. But before adding a dietary supplement to your diet, consult your nutritionist or doctor to discuss what it best for you.
If your levels are lower than normal, a range of symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and poor memory may be experienced. We may misunderstand these symptoms as dehydration or just one of those days, but if you are not able to overcome these symptoms, checking your levels would be a wise idea.

Calcium is well-known for its key role in bone and teeth health. Calcium also helps maintain heart rhythm and muscle contraction. Inadequate dietary calcium increases the risk of low mineral density, stress fractures and osteoporosis.

Women are at greatest risk for low bone mineral density if:

  • decreased intake of dairy products and other calcium-rich foods
  • menstrual dysfunction inadequate exposure to sunlight
  • Calcium, as well as other minerals can be lost through perspiration. Ignoring calcium in the diet can cause weak bones and frequent muscle cramps. So remember, that glass of milk may not be very palatable, but it's one of those foods your bones will thank you for. Cheese, Fish, Tofu, Milk, Almonds, Milk Chocolate, Milk Products, Spinach, Yogurt, Soybean, Low Fat Paneer, Broccoli, Rajma, etc... are all foods rich in calcium. Including them in your diet is highly recommended.
  • We always preach to eat well and meet our basic vitamin requirement from food. But in case you are facing any of the above symptoms you should test your vitamins levels and supplementing them should not be completely dismissed. However, they should be recommended only after a detailed dietary assessment and biochemical evaluation. Ensuring your vitamin levels are within the normal range at all times is vital to staying healthy.

Stay VitaFit!

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