13 April, 2020
Vitamin D deficiency is a rather prevalent senior health issue in India, though there is not much awareness about it yet. It is important to understand what the risks are and why sunlight plays a vital role in helping us maintain Vitamin D levels in our bodies. Doctors have always advised seniors not to spend much time outside during the scorching summers, especially during the peak time of 11 am to 4 pm. Chances of dehydration and heat stroke are more when people spend more time outside in the sun without proper precautions.
However, the doctors have also mandated people to spend at least ten minutes in the sun before 10 am or after 4 pm, to ensure no Vitamin D deficiency happens. This could also be done as the regular walks, a bit of gardening, or even sunbathing on the terrace, etc. But, the COVID-19 crisis has put everyone in a quandary, as none of us are allowed to step out. Senior citizens, especially, have been advised not to step out even for essential items, as they are vulnerable. The problem of arranging for groceries is being tackled in various forms by the government through various agencies, and even the community. But, the issue of not getting enough Vitamin D is something that you need to handle at your end.
Find a sunspot
If you have access to the terrace or a balcony, where enough sun comes in during the early morning or late evening, make it a point to spend some time in the sun. You could just stand there or put a chair and read a book, or do some exercises if that suits you. These few moments in the sun could be a lifesaver for you and help build your immunity as well.
Many unproven theories also suggest that the Coronavirus will not be able to sustain in the Indian summer. It is also being said that Vitamin D provides natural immunity to fight such diseases. While we are not sure about any of these theories as there is no conclusive proof yet, while considering the other countries, India so far has been lucky. Perhaps, when we know that we need the little bit of sunlight to maintain our health and Vitamin D levels, there is no harm in ensuring the same.
The diet alternative
If you have access to sun, then it is well and good; but, if not, then you need to ensure that you have Vitamin D rich foods. Perhaps, since you may not be stepping out for groceries yourself, or as often as you did before the lockdown started, list down the foods. Fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, shrimp, and tuna are a good way to get the required amount of Vitamin D. You may also consume Cod Liver Oil, which has been used since long to treat Vitamin D deficiency.
Egg yolk is another good option; while for the vegetarians, they can look at consuming more of mushrooms. The other option is to look for fortified foods, including cow and soy milk that can help you with the daily quota of Vitamin D. Apart from this, many breakfast bowls of cereal, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, tofu, and fruit juices and other foods are also fortified with Vitamin D. It is best to stick to natural options, but, if not available, one may resort to other options, than to end up with a deficiency, by the time lockdown is over.
As a last resort, if you feel that you are not getting enough sunlight, or able to find any of the foods as mentioned above, you may get in touch with your doctor. Almost all doctors are now available via phone and video conferencing or online, for consultation, considering the Government guidelines. You may check with your doctor, based on your age, health, and medical condition, if any, on whether you should start with some Vitamin D supplements. Please do remember not to step out to buy the medicines, as even that is being made available via various options.
Note: Please do not start any supplements on your own choice, as there could be side effects of the same, and in the current situation, it is best to avoid stepping out for any form of consultation.
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