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Staying at home and suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, how can it increase the risk of osteoporosis?

With the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing down, millions across the globe are currently staying in self-isolation and are stuck indoors. Even though the lockdown has been lifted, many are still working from home to prevent themselves from contracting the deadly virus and are only stepping out to purchase essentials.

While this practice can restrict the spread of the virus, however, it can also have an unpleasant side-effect – a deficiency of Vitamin D!

Sunlight is the major source of Vitamin D for us and this particular nutrient is extremely vital for ensuring the health of our bones and teeth. However, as lesser number of people are now stepping out of their homes, it has reduced their ability to absorb necessary elements such as calcium and phosphorous which are essential for maintaining the bone health and has increased the risk of osteoporosis among them.

Vitamin D deficiency and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition when bones of a person become weak and brittle. This condition affects the bones and makes people extremely weak. People suffering from this condition are always at an increased risk of a fracture and they have such weak bones that even minor incidents or bending or even sneezing can cause a fracture among them.

It’s quite common to one’s knowledge that bone density is at its peak till 35 years and thereafter it starts decreasing. Bones naturally start becoming thinner and weaker due to the slow regeneration process at later ages of one’s life. During this period, if someone lacks the necessary exposure to the sun and consumes inadequate calcium then it can aggravate the incidence of osteoporosis among them. Currently, due to improper diets, faulty lifestyles and the absence of sun exposure, a large part of our population, including relatively younger adults, are falling prey to osteoporosis. Hence, more number of healthcare experts are now urging people to take Vitamin D supplements while staying at home.

 How can you spot the signs of Vitamin D deficiency while staying at home?

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are often very subtle and many don’t even know whether or not their body is undergoing a vitamin D deficiency. But, some of the effects through which one can spot the signs of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Sour mood
  • Low energy
  • More frequent illness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss

What should one do to prevent Vitamin D deficiency?

Firstly one needs to ascertain if their Vitamin D level in your body is low. In order to do so they can make use of diagnostic tests that can determine the blood Vitamin D content in their bodies. The results of these test can help in determining the amount of Vitamin D one needs.  If the test results are low, then the one should IDEALLY start taking Vitamin D supplements with Calcium ( sometimes with Magnesium and Zinc) to meet the required amounts for their bodies. Furthermore, one can alternative look at including Vitamin D rich foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms, orange juice, salmon, cow’s milk, soy milk, cereal, oatmeal, cod liver oil and cheese in their diet to meet the daily vitamin D requirement.

As we continue to fight a pandemic, a viral disease which has crippled the world, it has  become very important for us that besides practising social isolation, hand hygiene, hand sanitization and cough etiquettes, we must also maintain good health so that even if we contract the virus, our body is prepared to overcome it.  As our way of living has drastically changed right now and we are unable to receive the necessary amount of exposure to the sun, hence, it is advisable that we increase our intake of calcium rich foods during the lockdown to keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay.

Blood tests recommended for screening bone health:

  1. 25 OH-Vitamin D on LC-MS/MS platform – more accurate result than immunoassays, hence, reduces unnecessary treatment. Separately estimates D2 (plant source derived) & D3 (animal source derived) for better therapeutic monitoring. Immunoassays overestimate D3 and underestimate D2.
  2. Calcium – Total and Ionized
  3. Phosphorus
  4. Trace elements like Magnesium, Zinc etc

BY: Dr. Aditi Gupta, Lead Consultant – Bio Chemistry, Aster Labs

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