The Philippines is a tropical country that is famous for its scorching summers and typhoon seasons. The hot and humid weather causes most Filipinos to go to air-conditioned malls and stay indoors whenever the sun is out to play. This common way of life is actually causing more harm than good since 3 out of 5 Filipinos are now considered vitamin D deficient.
What is vitamin D?
Did you know that you produce vitamin D whenever your body is directly exposed to the sun? According to Mayo Clinic, “your body makes vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into an active form of the vitamin called calciferol.” Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium absorption so your bones stay strong and healthy. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common since it is not usually found in most foods unlike other essential vitamins and minerals.
Benefits of vitamin D
Aside from aiding calcium absorption, vitamin D is also said to help treat certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, osteomalacia, and rickets. Some research also connects vitamin D to the prevention of other serious illnesses like cancer, familial hypophosphatemia, osteoporosis, and psoriasis (topical medication).
Vitamin D deficiency in Filipinos
It may be surprising to know that Filipinos suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Most people in Manila tend to stay away from the extreme heat (most especially during the summer season) to avoid getting sunburn. But what seems like a harmless habit is actually causing more damage to your overall health. Office workers are most especially at risk since they go to work early in the morning, have little to no sun exposure in between their shifts, and usually clock out just before sundown.
There are also other factors linked to vitamin D deficiency such as obesity, age (people aged 65 and older), and skin pigmentation (those with darker skin are more at risk).
Vitamin D in your diet
The daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for children is 400 international units (IU) and most adults need about 600 IU of vitamin D a day. Those who are aged 70 years and above are advised to consume 800 IU daily. There are several natural sources of vitamin D which can be found in some food sources like:
- Fortified cereals
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, and halibut
One of the easiest ways to get enough vitamin D in your system is to get a healthy dose of sun exposure every now and then. Experts recommend a maximum of 20-30 minutes of direct sun exposure at noon time to get the adequate level of vitamin D that you need for that day. Keep in mind that this does not mean that you stay under the sun for long periods of the time since this may put you at risk of developing harmful skin diseases like sunburn and melanoma. Apply a sufficient amount of your trusted sunblock to prevent sun damage and wear protective sunglasses whenever you head out. Take extra caution if you have dark skin because that means your body has more melanin, which makes it harder for your body to absorb vitamin D from the sun. It is important to know that other factors such as clothing can also affect the way your skin interacts with the sun.
Consume a healthy amount of vitamin D-rich foods like eggs, fish, and milk. Make it a habit to read your food’s nutritional information to ensure that you are getting the most out of your meals. Other medications may also affect vitamin D absorption, so ask your doctor about taking supplements if you still feel that you are not getting enough vitamin D in your system.
Always buy your medicine from your trusted drugstores and retailers. Keep in mind that your doctor will always be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice. For suspected undesirable drug reaction, seek medical attention immediately and report to the FDA at www.fda.gov.ph and UNILAB, Inc. at UNILAB-1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.