Are You Getting Enough Sun?

by Sharell शारेल on September 12, 2011

in Daily Life in India

Post image for Are You Getting Enough Sun?

Last week, I decided to take advantage of Australia’s free health care and get a whole lot of blood tests done. I wanted to see what my general well being was like post malaria last year (it affects the liver and iron levels) and before planning to have a child (yes, I am an old woman by Indian standards).

“Make sure you get your Vitamin D levels tested. I’ve heard a lot about people being deficient,” my mum insisted to me. Sure, okay, mum.

Much to my horror, seven vials of blood were taken from me at the doctor’s office. I don’t handle that sort of thing very well, and felt so dizzy afterwards that I had to go to bed.

Back at the doctor’s office three days later, the results were in. All that may have been wrong, wasn’t. “You are fine, healthy and young. Everything is in balance,” the doctor proclaimed. “Except your Vitamin D levels are way too low.” My mum was right. I have a Vitamin D deficiency.

Even the doctor, a lovely Sri Lankan lady, was shocked. “But you live in a hot country!”

Ah, yes, I do. But it’s not a country that encourages baring my uncovered skin to the sun to absorb Vitamin D. In fact, for more than six months of the year, it’s too hot or too wet to even go outside much. Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency in India is widespread.

Low levels of Vitamin D can contribute to all kinds of health problems, so I’m going to have to take a high dose supplement for at least a few months to get my levels up. (And everyone, get your clothes off and sun those bodies!).

17 people like this post.
© Copyright 2011 Sharell शारेल, Diary of a White Indian Housewife 2008-2014. All Rights Reserved. Do not copy and reproduce text or images without permission.

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{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane September 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I’ve had the same advice. I read that in the US they keep finding lots of people with vitamin D deficiency and that it is caused by overdoing the sunblock lotion routine because of the fear of skin cancer. Again: moderation wins the day.

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Yep, everything in moderation! ;-)

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Annie September 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Hi Sharell,

Guess what ? I have exactly the same problem …
Whenever I return from India to Belgium I also let the doctor run a lot of blood tests and, just like you, each time I’m found with a too low level of vitamin D in spite of living in Rajasthan !
I have a very fair skin with lots of freckles and strawberry blond hair … and of course don’t sunbath in the desert but I frequently sit in the sun in the winter there… In spite of that, I have to supplement vitamin D !
I’ve been told that as you grow older, the body doesn’t fix vitamin D well !!! ;-(

BTW, I love your picture taken on a background of sunflowers !

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Ugh, it looks like I’ll have to continually take the supplements then, if you’re still deficient after sitting in the sun even. There’s not much scope for sunbathing in Mumbai (especially when the neighbours have full view onto our terrace).

The sunflowers were taken in Hanging Garden, in Mumbai. :-)

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Sharlene September 16, 2011 at 11:21 am

And you have exposed arms are OK in Mumbai? Just curious!

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Sharell September 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Exposed arms are fine. :-)

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Dips September 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm

In fact, December last year I was not feeling too well and had a battery of tests done (around 4 vials of blood).
I was deficient in Vit D – and prescribed 10 sachets of cholecalciferol i.e. 10 weeks. I did have a choice of taking a single injection – but Id rather ingest some sachets than have another needle through my skin!!
Surprisingly, this is only in Mumbai. Anywhere else, Id the opportunity and wish to move around outside – even Ahmedabad! But here, I always prefer shaded surroundings and avoid the sun (and pollution) as far as possible. Sad :/
Time for that afternoon-sun-walk!

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Oh no, not you too! :-( I’m glad you found out it was the problem. Scary how many people are suffering from it.

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Emerlander September 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I barely ever leave our house. When I do go out once in a while it’s in the car with the AC on. Looks like I’d have vitamin D deficiency, too. Not good. At least, you’re healthy overall :)

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Yes, you really should get tested because it is quite serious. I didn’t expect I’d have it.

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Emerlander September 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

Quite serious? Uh oh. Gotta get it checked then. Thanks :)

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 10:49 am

Please do. And let us know the results. At minimum it seems that a D deficiency compromises you body’s immunity and makes you feel tired. At worst, it contributes to bone disorders, and susceptibility to cancers and viruses. I’m sure Tamasha! can tell us more, because I’m definitely not an expert.

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Emerlander September 13, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Ohh boy. I catch cold sooo often. It’s become less frequent the last couples of years. And I feel tired unless I sleep for 8 hours (which I never do). As far as I know I dont have bone disorders or cancer. But who knows, I may have them too! lol. But seriously, I need to get checked. And go out in the sun a bit. Thanks! Never thought I’d get sound help advise here. WIHW is a rockin blog! :D

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Emerlander September 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I meant health advice :P

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TAMASHA! September 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Wow Sharell, 7 vials of blood! Sounds like your doctor was very THOROUGH.
Studies have shown that between 50 to 85 percent of the Indian population are vitamin D deficient. I’m surprised India doesn’t fortify dairy & cereal products with vitamin D like most developed countries. It’s the cheapest & easiest way to address this problem.

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I have 11 print outs of tests! Everything from cholesterol to hormones! ;-)

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TAMASHA! September 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Interesting, I’ve actually seen the severe osteomalacia (bone wasting) described in the link in your post about vitamin D deficiency in India. Ribcage & spinal deformities, multiple fractures that cause respiratory failure and great pain. Surprisingly quite frequently in teenaged females in India. Osteomalacia that severe usually only occurs in the elderly in the US.

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Ranveig September 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Getting enough Vitamin D seems to be a problem everywhere — I live in the UK, and here some children are actually getting rickets again from spending too much time indoors! Hopefully you can boost your levels a little by as daily as possible walks in daylight — although having spent some time in Mumbai, I can definitely understand that getting out and about in a hot, smoggy city doesn’t appeal.

(First comment, btw — thanks for a great blog.)

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hey, thanks for commenting. :-) Glad you like the blog. Unfortunately, it seems people everywhere just don’t have the awareness of how important sunlight is for health. We’re too busy worrying about the threat of skin cancers (or in India, becoming dark). I really hope to get out more in Mumbai in winter. Summer is just too hot and humid — I’m dripping sweat within minutes. lol.

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Cyn September 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

I’m waiting for winter to come too and be outside more :) Any other time and I can soak any outfit in 5 minutes in this heat, last year I still remember just stepping out to buy milk and coming back 10 minutes later with huge wet spots all over my linen pants and cotton t-shirt…yuck
This time I’m smarter, I wear only shorts instead of pants outside, that helps in the whole personal climate control woes.

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Abdullah K. September 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Get supplements. It is pretty much impossible to get all the nutrients you need from Indian food or lifestyle. And if you plan to have a baby, start working on your fitness. It helps a lot.

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Sharell September 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I have ordered supplements — 5,000 IU of D3 per capsule. I always take multi-vitamins as well. And I’ll be getting back on the stepper and getting some exercise (I never feel energetic during the monsoon because of all the mold in Mumbai, I have an allergy).

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Andrea September 13, 2011 at 2:09 am

@Abdullah — not just due to Indian lifestyle. This Vit. D deficiency is rampant. I just don’t totally understand it. I gardened all summer in DC and my levels are STILL low. Now taking 5000 per day, this amount may not apply to men. Who knows . . .
@Sharell — good move to get all that testing, and . . . gosh, funny how moms (like yours!) seem to be so right about these things.

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Abdullah K. September 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm

@ Andrea
I wasn’t talking only about Vitamin D deficiency. A lot of Indians are rather deficient in a lot of nutrients because the majority of Indian cuisines were designed for an agrarian lifestyle, not an urban sit-in-the-office-all-day-long lifestyle.

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TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm

@Abdullah & Andrea-
Indians living an ‘agrarian’ lifestyle often lose bone density not because of Vitamin D deficiency but due to a diet low in protein & calcium. Don’t forget you need calcium & adequate protein intake in addition to Vitamin D to maintain bone density.
Undernutrition in India includes both protein-energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrient deficiencies are a widespread problem in India. Iron deficiency anemia, Vitamin A deficiency, & Iodine deficiency are endemic in India. Progress in reducing the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in India has been slow. Today child malnutrition is prevalent in 7% of children under the age of 5 in China compared to a prevalence of 43% in India. Undernutrition is found mostly in rural areas and is concentrated in a relatively small number of districts and villages with 10% of villages and districts accounting for 27-28% of all underweight children. Most growth retardation occurs by the age of 2, and most damage is irreversible.

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Abdullah K. September 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

@ TAMASHA!
Indeed. I experimented with vegetarian Indian diets for a couple of months during my earliest days in Delhi. I ended up losing a lot of weight, felt weaker and more easily tired than I was used to. After a DEXA scan and a round of other tests, I found my bone density and muscle mass significantly reduced and a body fat level increase from 12% to 19%. I quit vegetarianism and went back to my meat and fish rich Russian diet. I have been doing well ever since.
 
Traditional Chinese cusine fares much better as far as nutritional requirements are considered. They don’t overcook their food as much as Indians do and the attitude towards meat consumption is rather positive. Which is probably why the Chinese, inspite of being smaller on average than Indians, are elites in athletic sports. In the 55 and 65 kg categories, Chinese weightlifters outclass everyone else, the exception being the occasional East European lightweight. Between an average Indian and an average Chinese, the average Chinese is stronger, fitter and healthier.
 
I don’t know a whole lot about malnutrition in the Indian populace, but from what I observed and experimented with Indian diets, I think Indian cuisine is designed for taste and survival, not optimal health.

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm

I disagree with you, Abdullah. I think on the contrary Indian cuisine is designed for optimal health. But it is very complex.

However, poor people’s diets are something else. For instance, when food prices go up, some poor families can’t afford to buy basic ingredients like onions or tomatoes anymore…

I know a lot of healthy vegetarian people, I myself am a flexitarian.

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prithviraj33 September 15, 2011 at 12:36 am

This is true helene, here in the US, Bill Clinton recently went on a Vegan diet and is now healthier than he has ever been.

I do have a fondness for meat though, and probably could not quit it.

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veeeeeh September 15, 2011 at 2:51 am

@ Hélène and Abdullah K.

I would agree with Abdullah. Every social institution, tradition and culture and cuisine has ‘agrarian’ roots including protection of cattle and caste system.

Thats why Indian food habits are high on carb and moderately high on fats. Source of protein has been majorly lentils, which is not a rich source of protein.

Like many Agrarian society based concepts, even food is supposed to make one feel filled and good.

In fact India is on the verge of becoming the Diabetes capital of the world.

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Amit Desai September 15, 2011 at 6:30 am

The problem in India is not the traditional agrarian diet. The problem is the highly inactive lifestyle as well as the contempt to incorporate new health routines into the traditional diet.

The simple rule of thumb:

(Highly) active lifestyle + (Moderate) food/junk consumption of all kinds = (Great) to satisfactory health.

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veeeeeh September 15, 2011 at 6:56 am

hahaha i will not blame Austropithecus or any other species from whom Human evolved for his current problems.

Its the fact of evolution. The rule of evolution is to adapt.

The agrarian roots of Indian subcontinent is the fact, the issue here is how much we evolve with changing environment.

We rules the world for most of the human history with everything tuned for Agrarian society. Where we go from here, lets wait and see.

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Amit Desai September 16, 2011 at 3:20 am

The rule of evolution is surely to adapt. But this is an incomplete view. As far as modern humans are concerned, their adaptation is based on economy, and influenced by the culture. For example, Canada is NO1 in lentils production. Instead of consuming these inexpensive lentils, they export them to south Asia (economy). This is mainly because Canadians (Western Europeans) don’t consume lentils as much (culture), and meat-production is affordable for Canadians (economy and culture).

In south Asia, there is an opposite scenario.

Have you not seen a meat-eating Bangladeshi putting loads of potatoes in the beef curry? That’s not so much due to “agrarian society” of Bangladesh. This is due to the high meat prices in Bangladesh that force meat-eating Bangladeshis to go for the cheaper food products. Same goes for Nepalis.

In India, the tradition does matter, but not as much as you guys seem to think. Give a Brahmin 1 kg of beef for 2 Rs and lentils for 20. He would still eat expensive lentils for few times, but one day he would give up his culture and give in to the economy.

veeeeeh September 16, 2011 at 6:37 am

Yes Amit, that’s the context in which I have used evolution. I meant the evolution of the society which is made up of sum total of social institutions, traditions (And other social variables that would constitute the culture)

Indian culture has evolved from a self sufficient and self sustained village. Its this cultural root that makes village and its elders bigger than the individual in that village. Its this set up which validates certain wants as legitimate and authorized.

This cultural root had helped us promote an ideal agrarian society. and social structures that provided stability to this agrarian social set up.

Protection and sustained availability of cattle for agrarian society has made us stay away from beef eating. There are many states within India where beef is much cheaper than other meat like goat or sheep. And you rightly pointed out that culture overwhelmed economic sense in evolution of the society tolerated life style including preferred cuisine.

Its a debate – Does demand fuel supply or supply fuel demand.

The answer of every question in the universe is -

It depends…….

Manny September 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

Veeeeh, You should stop BSing about Indian stuff and go have a good dinner.

Some woodland vegetarian stuff and some Chettinad Meat stuff and some Mugalai Biryani.

;)

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Manny September 15, 2011 at 6:53 am

But I totally agree on your comment about Diabetics and
India. India is the Diabetic capital.

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Hélène September 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

@veeeeeh
White rice, like refined wheat, is supposed to increase diabetes, it is full of sugar. People should eat unrefined grains, but it doesn’t taste as nice ;)

In a balanced vegetarian diet, you replace animal protein by a mix of cereal + pulse, which gives you equivalent protein as the animal ones.

Then you can’t deny that traditional Indian food uses lots of spices and herbs, which have medicinal qualities. ;)

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veeeeeh September 16, 2011 at 12:41 am

@ Hélène

I would agree with usage of herbs and spices and some definitely have medicinal properties.

As Tamashe said that eating excessive sugar or carbohydrate may not cause Diabetis though it could be one of the unproven reasons for dysfunctional Pancreas (One may argue that overuse of a machine will wear it down fast)

The real issue is lack of healthcare infrastructure. Most of the people don’t realize that they have diabetis and keep consuming hi carb diet. And even after one is diagonized with Diabetis, there is not much options or range in the evolved cuisine with low carb options.

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TAMASHA! September 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm

@Abdullah-
I spoke with a Russian doctor years ago about the American fascination with reducing ‘cholesterol’ (animal fats) in the diet. He laughed & said studies in Russia had shown that low levels of all types of blood cholesterol actually INCREASED risk of stroke & emboli & cholesterol lowering diets & drugs are not recommended except for in extreme cases. I’ve actually seen this to be true in many ‘vegan’ and vegetarian patients, they have a higher incidence of stroke & blood clots.
I tried eating the Indian vegetarian diet when I first moved here & gained weight like crazy!!!! I also felt weak & shaky about an hour after eating. I took it to mean by body was NOT tolerating all those darned CARBOHYDRATES!!! Especially the SUMO size portions of white rice. ;)

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Hélène September 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

@Tamasha – you can also get cholesterol from vegetable oils, I believe.

I’m surprised that you reacted badly to a vegetarian diet. Didn’t you mention your husband is vegetarian ? I personnally find I get less digestion problems when I eat vegetarian, though I’ve never done it over a very long period of time.

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prithviraj33 September 15, 2011 at 12:35 am

I think its hard to generalize Indians Abdullah, Chinese are easier to generalize because they are more homogeneous. There are many different ethnic groups in India.

If you take the typical Rajput, Haryanvi or Punjabi who is around 6’0” and compare them to an average Chinese or African, they will be healthier (much better looking as well, but thats a different story). Even Marathas are quite healthy these days. Some villager from Kannada will definitely be very short and unhealthy though.

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veeeeeh September 15, 2011 at 3:26 am

I am not aware of the actual Chinese food, but what I have learnt from Koreans and Japanese is that the Chinese food is greasy and uses lots of oil.

The Cantonese cuisine or occasional schazwan cuisine that you see being exported is certainly oily.

But the diet control and training regimen of Chinese is much better. There was a time when they were comparable to Koreans and Japanese in sports. But now they have beaten US and other western countries and has shown remarkable growth in sports.

Food is much better for Japanese and Koreans. Average Korean and Japanese has much better health index and Japanese probably have highest life expectancy in the world. I still remember the old woman who cycled at her age and escaped Tsunami. They are much more physically active for their age as well.

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Mat Diplo September 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

If a person eats lots of meat, eggs, and dairy would this naturally supplement vitamin D, or is sunlight the only way other natural way to get vitamin D? Do Indians have a higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency because they have higher levels of melanin which prevents absorption? Or are there other reasons?

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Kayla B September 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Sharell, I have the same issue AND I live in Southern California AND I’m outside a lot. My doctor freaked me out when she told me I’m deficient and that I need to know the symptoms for a few diseases that can stem from Vitamin D issues, especially multiple sclerosis. So I took my Vitamin D supplements like a crazy person and went back 3 months later. My vitamin D was fine. Another doctor saw me and told me not to worry, most people have Vitamin D issues and I shouldn’t worry about getting multiple sclerosis. All that worry for nothing! But, I still take a small dose of them everyday.

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TAMASHA! September 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm

From The Telegraph, Kolkata, Dec. 1,2010-
“Doctors say Indians appear to need more supplementary vitamin D than Caucasians. “Our dark skin hampers penetration of sunlight to its lower layers, which is essential for vitamin D synthesis,” said Alok Sachan, head of endocrinology at the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati. “And for vegetarians, sunlight is virtually the only source of vitamin D,” Sachan told The Telegraph.
The body makes vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight. The vitamin is also available in fatty fish such as tuna or mackerel and, in tiny amounts, from egg yolk. Calcium is available in many foods — milk, yoghurt, cheese, broccoli, and fish with soft bones. But the body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium for bone health. Low levels of calcium or vitamin D can weaken the bones.
Ambrish Mithal, a senior endocrinologist in Delhi and a specialist in bone health, and a colleague Nidhi Malhotra had last year compiled the results of several studies from India over the past decade and warned about widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in men, women, as well as children. The studies from different Indian cities suggest that nine out of 10 school girls, seven out of 10 adults, and eight out of 10 pregnant women have vitamin D deficiency. “

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V.G September 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Soak up all the sun while in Aussie Land!

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

It’s only just turned spring here, and the weather is like winter. :-( Cold, cloudy, and raining. Not impressed at all. I got one day of sunshine when I arrived, and the weather has been nasty ever since!

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botham September 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Hope your A1C levels are ok. Among indians thats one numbers no one should live with out knowing. Even among europeans, but I feel that numbers is much worse in Indians as just a generation back the diet was not rich and may be the fetal chemistry changed to produce bodies not tolerant to richer glucose levels latter in life.

A1C numbers might deteriorate based on glucose levels, lipid toxicity levels, beta-cells mass to begin with and plain old genes…..but that is a number which might be in individual control in the beginning to prevent things from going worse.

The analogy between high A1C levels in human body and say high current levels in manmade circuits is quite similar. In circuits high current levels lead to reliability and burn out problems every where in the system, just like high glucose levels due to a1c.

Another thing I might add is doctors looking only at empty stomach glucose levels instead of a1c levels might be missing the problem by a decade or so. As, a1c numbers might be leading indicator, don’t know if they check for that in india or australia unless asked for.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 6:33 am

That’s interesting. It’s something I’ve never heard of. I had a look on the internet and it’s a glucose test for diabetes? I don’t think I have to worry about that thankfully — no diabetes in my family and my diet puts me at a low risk of diabetes. (I don’t have the typical sugary diet).

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TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

@Sharell-
‘my diet puts me at a low risk of diabetes. (I don’t have the typical sugary diet).’
Eating sweets or the wrong kind of food does not cause diabetes. It’s important to be aware of the different myths that over the years have arisen about the causes of diabetes. I would hope your physician did a random glucose, GlycoMark or HbA1c to screen for any blood sugar abnormalities.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

Yes, glucose came back totally fine. :-)

But what about all the examples given that high sugar/high carb diet produces obesity and insulin resistance (type II diabetes). If it’s not that what causes it? Actually, I found an interesting example here: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/prediabetesanddiabetes/a/whatisdiabetes.htm

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

Actually, looking at the test results it was at the lower end of the spectrum. Random glucose 4.1 mmol/L. The ref range is 3-6.9.

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botham September 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

4.1 if that is your a1c number, I am jealous. I was close to 6 and am on a mission to get it to 5. I am planning a next reading in october, but have lost 50 lbs and am swimming 3km thrice a week. I am 5-11, so that brings my bmi to close to 21, impedance measurements also show my body fat percentage to be around 12. I don’t specifically go for low glycemic diet, but the diet is calorie controlled. Lets see if all these improves my a1c !!

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I don’t quite know what it is! Tamasha should be able to tell us. The test name is Glucose, the collection type is random (as opposed to fasting), and the specimen is fl-ox (fluoride oxalate).

Sounds like you’re getting really healthy. A lean, mean, swimming machine. :-P

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TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Random glucose test is a blood sugar test taken from a non-fasting subject.This test, also called random blood glucose (RBG), assumes a recent meal and therefore has higher reference values than the fasting glucose test. A “normal” random glucose test in an average adult are 70 – 140 mg/dl (3.9 – 7.8 mmol/l).
Glycated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, HbA1c, A1C, or Hb1c; sometimes also HbA1c is a form of hemoglobin which is measured primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time. In the normal 120-day lifespan of the red blood cell, glucose molecules react with hemoglobin, forming glycated hemoglobin. In individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, the quantities of these glycated hemoglobins are much higher than in healthy people. Mr Botham’s glycated hemoglobin is 4.1% in DCCT units, a glycated hemoglobin above 6.5% is considered diabetic by the American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes

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TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I guess a simpler way to put it would be that a ‘random blood glucose’ test is like a snapshot but a ‘glycated hemoglobin’ or A1C is like a movie.
;)

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Sharell September 14, 2011 at 5:39 am

That’s a great way of putting it! I think you must be appointed to the position of resident health adviser on this blog. It’s only fair as Mohit Gupta holds the position of resident HIndi editor. I don’t want your special skills to go unrewarded and unnoticed. :-)

TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

@Sharell-
‘But what about all the examples given that high sugar/high carb diet produces obesity and insulin resistance (type II diabetes).’

The link you posted explains the situation.
‘Ruth’ has a family history of Type 2 Diabetes & therefore a GENETIC risk for glucose intolerance & insulin resistance.
‘Ruth’s’ initial choice of high carbohydrate/high glycemic index diet AGGRAVATES her prediabetic, glucose intolerant, insulin resistant inherited GENES but does NOT CAUSE DIABETES. Heredity is a major cause of diabetes. If both parents have Type 2 diabetes, there is a chance that nearly all of their children will have diabetes.
There is argument about whether insulin resistance causes weight gain or the other way around, but they probably trigger each other once the cycle gets going, and so both get worse.

Type 2 diabetes is INHERITED & believed to develop when:
1) The receptors on cells in the body that normally respond to the action of insulin fail to be stimulated by it – this is known as insulin resistance. In response to this more insulin may be produced, and this over-production exhausts the insulin-manufacturing cells in the pancreas.
2) There is simply insufficient insulin produced by the pancreas. 3) The insulin that is produced by the pancreas may be abnormal/defective and therefore doesn’t work properly at the receptor cells.
RISK factors (NOT CAUSES) for developing Type 2 Diabetes are- Family history of Type 2 Diabetes, increasing age, obesity, and physical inactivity.

RARE causes of diabetes include- Certain medications (corticosteroids, phenytoin), pregnancy (gestational diabetes), and any illness or disease that damages the pancreas and affects its ability to produce insulin e.g. pancreatitis.

Eating sweets or the wrong kind of food does not cause diabetes. However, eating excessive sweets or the wrong kind of food may cause obesity.
Stress does not cause diabetes, although it may be a trigger for the body turning on itself as in the case of Type 1 Diabetes. It does, however, make the symptoms worse for those who already have diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is relatively rare consisting of only 5-10% of diabetes cases- this is often also referred to as ‘juvenile diabetes’. In Type 1 Diabetes the cells in the pancreas that make insulin are destroyed, causing a severe lack of insulin. This is thought to be the result of the body attacking and destroying its own cells in the pancreas – an autoimmune reaction. It’s not clear why this happens but a number of explanations and possible triggers of this reaction have been proposed. For example-infection with a specific virus or bacteria, exposure to food-borne chemical toxins, and
exposure as a very young infant to cow’s milk, where an as yet unidentified component of this triggers the autoimmune reaction in the body.

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Mat Diplo September 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm

@TAMASHA! You explain things so well in a clear and concise way. I was just wondering if you have a website of some sort relating to health and diet / nutrition–I always find your advice useful. Thanks.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Ah-ha, you have returned again, haven’t you. ;-)

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

But yes, I agree about Tamasha!

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TAMASHA! September 13, 2011 at 2:44 pm

@Mat-
Thank you for the compliment!
No, I don’t have a website on health/diet/nutrition, that’s an interesting idea though. I feel badly for folks looking for health information on the internet & in general. There is a lot of misinformation out there and it is quite daunting to sift through it all. Although some of the misinformation is posted by well meaning individuals, more often the misinformation is spread by those with an agenda (for example- selling a diet, medication or supplements.)

As you can tell by my lengthy diatribe Diabetes is very complex. Although Diabetes may present as a simple lack of insulin, there are many different mechanisms that can cause this. That is why Diabetes is so difficult to treat and luckily why so many treatment options (oral medications, injectable medications, etc) are available.

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

How do you explain the recent explosion of Type 2 Diabetes in industrialized countries and 50+ people ?

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TAMASHA! September 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

@Helene-
‘How do you explain the recent explosion of Type 2 Diabetes in industrialized countries and 50+ people ?’

Routine screening for Type 2 Diabetes has only taken place for the past 15 years, many diabetics previous to went undiagnosed. Even today in the United States with routine screening out of the 23.6 million persons with diabetes only 17.9 million persons have been diagnosed properly as being diabetic. The incidence of Type 2 Diabetes varies substantially in different parts of the world, it is theorized because of environmental and lifestyle factors which exacerbate the inherited predisposition.

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veeeeeh September 13, 2011 at 12:30 am

Its actually not sunlight by UV radiation in the sunlight thats important for vitamin D generation in the body.

UV radiation is harmful and the life exists on the earth because Ozone layer filters this UV radiation.

Dark skin is indeed useful bilogically if you living in the tropical area, as higher melanin reflects the sunlight and skin can withstand higher UV radiation exposure.

The food habits, as rightly pointed out also causes vitamin “D” deficiency, especially vegetarian

The time of the day also decides on how much UV radiation would be able to travel through the Ozone layer. The mornings and evenings make the sunlight travel the ozone layer in a slanted angle, thus making it travel longer, and lower UV able to pass through the ozone.

The pale skin or less melanin pigmented skin evolved in the colder regions as the man living in such colder regions needed to absorb the sun light as against the man on the tropic who needed protection against high Uv radiation.

Pale skin is more prone to sun burns and cancer due to exposure to the prolonged sunlight, hence heavy usage of sun screens.

Melanin essentially does the work of the sun screen.

Pale skined person needs to stand in the sunlight during the noon for few minutes. A dark skinned person needs to stand longer to get the same level of vitamin D produced.

So the variables are -
1) food habits
2) Time in the day when exposed to UV radiations
3) length of exposure.

Low Vitamin d can create bone related problems and heart ailments, so take care folks.

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Actually vegetarians don’t necessarily have a low Vitamin D level, since you find it in cow’s milk.

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TAMASHA! September 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

@Helene-
Vitamin D does NOT naturally occur in cow’s milk.
Milk, yogurt, cheese & butter are artificially FORTIFIED with vitamin D in the United States and many western countries. Vitamins D & A are also commonly added to breakfast cereals, orange juice and margarine in the United States.
Vitamin D is NOT commonly added to milk in India.
Amul (an Indian dairy company) does make a few vitamin fortified milk products like Calci+ that are fortified with vitamin D.

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Nutritionists from here and Canada claim there is natural vitamin D in milk, but I think it’s only in full fat milk…

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veeeeeh September 15, 2011 at 2:41 am

The reason that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. The practice of using skimmed or low fat milk takes away the vitamin D.

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TAMASHA! September 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

MOOOO!!!!
Ok I asked 2 of my Dutch Dairy rancher uncles about cow’s milk composition in the United States.
Natural, untreated cow’s milk does indeed contain vitamin D in TRACE amounts. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (like A & E) so it is found in the fat portion of the milk. The amount of FAT in cow’s milk depends a lot on the breed, the Frisian/Holstein dairy cows you see most often in the US have about 3.6% fat in their milk while the French Normande cows have the highest fat content of milk at 5.2% Since India & Nepal often use water buffalo milk it’s interesting to know that the fat content of water buffalo milk is 7.4%, yak milk is about 6.4%, goat milk varies by the breed but averages 4.6%, and just in case you wanted to know human milk has about 4.2% fat.
According to my uncles the cheapest commercial way to ‘fortify’ cow’s milk with vitamin D is to expose it to ultraviolet light (UVB) at wavelengths between 270 and 300 nm. The cholesterol precursor in the milk (7-dehydrocholesterol), is photolyzed by UVB in a 6-electron conrotatory electrocyclic reaction. The product is previtamin D3. Previtamin D3 spontaneously isomerizes to vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Prior to the fortification of milk products in the 1930s, rickets was a major public health problem in the United States. Milk in the United States is fortified with 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D per quart .

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Hélène September 16, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Thanks Tamasha, that’s very interesting, and it makes sense to me… :)

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veeeeeh September 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

incidentally UV radiation or ozonation is done for the treated water as well.

UV treatment will also kill microbes in the water or milk.

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aravind September 13, 2011 at 12:56 am

you guys decided to have a baby? That’s a great news :)
Good luck to you both.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 6:37 am

We are feeling positive about the idea. :-P Especially now that my book is out of the way. Thanks for the good wishes.

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Mat Diplo September 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Congratulations Sharell! Have you both started thinking of baby names? Indian name / western name / creative mixture?

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

No, waiting to actually get it cooking first!

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Laura September 13, 2011 at 2:10 am

I have fair skin and tend to burn very easily — as I discovered again to my horror last winter, when we went on a Caribbean cruise and I didn’t apply sunblock early and often enough and absolutely FRIED my shoulders — so I tend to avoid the sun wherever possible, and have for many years. That being said, however, I drink a lot of milk, which is vitamin-D fortified in the US, and I also have been taking a D supplement daily for several years now. My daughter, who lives in the mountains and avoids the sun as well, takes an even larger supplement on her doctor’s recommendation.

It’s interesting that it’s become quite an epidemic, isn’t it? It probably always has been, but they’re just now discovering it. It’s a good thing you took advantage of the Australian healthcare system to get checked out (grrr — color me jealous for free healthcare, people in the US are SO obnoxious about fighting to prevent it here!)! Seven vials of blood or not, it was still worth it!

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Kate September 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

Australian doctors are nuts for this at the moment. They never tested for it before but now, with most people very sun smart and covering up with clothes and sunscreen, they decided to test and EVERYONE who’s been tested is very low.

I had a whole lot of tests done on my blood last year and everything was fine… except my Vitamin D! I took a supplement for three months and haven’t worried about it since. I walk the dog, have a long walk too and from my car each day. I mentioned it again to a doctor this year and he said, nah, nothing to worry about, implying that it was all a storm in a tea cup.

What to think now?!

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vikas September 13, 2011 at 3:24 am

Sharell,
You look very radiant and happy in the picture! Vitamin D or no Vitamin D!
Its almost like the publishing of the book has taken a big burden of you.Now you are a contented woman! Cheers!

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 6:06 am

Seriously, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders! It totally consumed me for a year. Now I can start living again.

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LeeAnn September 13, 2011 at 4:46 am

I, too, tested low for Vit D and took the prescribed supplements for a year. I also take 2000 I.U. daily of Vitamin D3. Not sure about the difference, but D3 is supposed to be better than just D. Oh, and I live in Texas, another hot, sunny climate!

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Jenn September 13, 2011 at 5:16 am

Vitamin D acts as a prohormone, effects the Natural Killer cell part of our immune system (which is what goes after viruses and cancer) and is shown to effect cardiovascular health and cholesterol.
I wonder if the increase in auto-immune diseases may be associated with Vitamin D?

From my personal experience- since taking Vitamin D for a few years I haven’t gotten the flu and I work at a hospital. Before that I used to get sick every year and then some.

Also, it is so nice to sit out in the sun when you’ve had a bad day. It lifts my mood instantly.

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Arti September 13, 2011 at 7:00 am

Thats why I go for small walks during the day like to bring some Veggies and Milk… Hopefully my body absorbs enough sun during that time. Have a nice day Sharell:)
My Yatra Diary…

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 7:37 am

My hubby does that for me. He goes on around 4 short walks a day. I’m still going to make sure he gets tested though, especially with the monsoon season just drawing to a close.

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Ashli September 13, 2011 at 7:04 am

My vitamin d levels were less than half of what they should have been. I had to take 10000 units twice a day for a week then once a day for a week then down to 5000 a day and have to stay on that to maintain optimum levels. I live in the Pacific Northwest United States so there is little hope of getting the amount of sun exposure necessary to keep them up. I just finished the book today. I loved it! I hope to see a sequel in the future.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 7:36 am

Ashli, that sounds a lot like me. Mine is almost a third of optimum levels. :-( I’ll be taking a similar dosage to you. Glad you liked the book, by the way. I’m thinking of a sequel about motherhood in Mumbai (so I guess the next step is focusing on doing something about that… after this Vitamin D debacle is sorted out!).

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Christina V September 13, 2011 at 7:05 am

Living in Florida, especailly in the middle of the state it gets super hot and humid. I know it’s nothing compare to India, but I tan very easily and I stay indoor most of the time because I can’t stand the heat. Does that mean you may need to eat stuff that has vitmain d?

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 7:34 am

Hi Christina, I’ll have to take a Vitamin D supplement daily — similar to what Ashli (who also left a comment here) has to do. Eating food with Vitamin D won’t be enough to bring my levels back up to optimum.

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Cyn September 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

The issue has been raised in Europe too, the main reason there is the overuse of sunblock cream, growing up it was a thing we used at the beach, but now magazines even back home advise ladies to wear some everyday.
I was thinking the problem in India must be quite huge too, with ladies told to stay out of the sun not to darken their skin, and people staying indoor as much as possible.
Back in bangalore I used to get out as much as possible and when we were living in our old roof top appartment we turned the terrasse into a living space, whcih we enjoyed mornings and evening, I think the only time we were not outside was between 11am and 4pm when the sun was high up, our neighbours must have thoughts we were nut, and downright crazy when we purchased a 6ft wide kiddie pool for our daughter and ended up using it ourselves, not without a few aunties spying on us.

I hate being outside in Mumbai because of the icky sticky feeling you get due to the humidity, but with an appartment with all windows facing East (huge wall to wall sliding glass balcony door), I think it would be a good idea to just soak up the sun there in the morning. I haven’t gone for blood works on vitamin D, but I’m sure the result isn’t all that good, and I’m not even sure the multivitamin I’m taking has it.

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Sharell September 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

OMG, you have just given me a fantastic idea regarding the kiddie pool!!! I am soooo buying one! 8) We have a terrace (that hundreds of neighbours can see in) but health seems to be more important than modesty now. I need sun!! ;-)

I completely know how you feel about the ickness from the humidity. I’m constantly covered and with a layer of sweat.

Oh, and I take multi-vitamin supplement with everything in it (including D), and have done for years, but such a small dosage isn’t enough obviously. I’ll have to take a separate high strength supplement of D.

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Cyn September 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Darn if I knew I would have kept my kiddie pool! I gave it to the maid because our balconies are super tiny and it was taking valuable storage space.
I just checked my multivitamin bottle it has some vitamin D in it, but in a very tiny amount about one tenth of the recommended values, sily considering that the Indian diet and lifestyle isn’t very vitamin D friendly, you would expect a local brand to just do a little bit more research, and my multivitamin is apparently specially formulated for women, but it has less folic acid than another brand I was taking right before, I’m going to switch next month.

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Sharell September 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

Oh, that is a pity. You could’ve joined us for a communal pool party! :-P Never mind, when we get one, will invite you over.

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Cyn September 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Oh pool party! Love the idea, you can get a 6ft diameter one on ebay for around 800 rupees, though it seems Intex is now stocked in many stores around the country as well.

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Sharell September 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hehe, I was checking Ebay out! ;-)

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priya September 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

I know a guy who had severe back problems. After repeated tests, he was even asked to get admitted to the hospital for a back surgery. On second opinion he found out that his bones have become kind of stiff due to Vitamin D deficiency. He was asked to sit under the sun in the early mornings till 9 am. Now he is up and fine. The morning sun does wonders and sadly no amount of medication can give you the long lasting benefits. Sun is the way to go!!

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prashanth September 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Hello All,
Some media company in Germany is looking for Germans living in India (specially, in/around Delhi region), to act in a documentary film. If interested, check the below link:

Deutsche Expats in Indien für Dokumentarfilm gesucht (from ‘German-Indian Community’ on Xing.com) : https://www.xing.com/net/pri882807x/dic/informationen-uber-und-aus-indien-281252/deutsche-expats-in-indien-fur-dokumentarfilm-gesucht-37742781/

PS: I’m sorry to post an off-topic comment! :)

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Danielle September 14, 2011 at 5:13 am

I recently had my Vitamin D levels checked and – to my horror – found that they were very low also (in the lowest bracket.. Eek!). As an Australian living in Australia I found it quite shocking!! I am not a ‘sun dodger’ even though I have very pale skin and blonde hair. Obviously – for long periods in the Australian sun – I use a good high level sunscreen, but definitely am not vigilant about it.
My mum is a Naturopath and immediately put me on Vitamin D supplements – it’s something she see’s on a daily basis and, whilst we get our Vitamin D from the sun and calcuim, the levels are low NOT because we don’t sit in the sun… It’s because of our bodies ability (or in this case, inablity) to absorb the Vitamin D.
It was recomended to me to NOT immediately take a high dosage of Vitamin D as it can cause Vitamin D toxicity, which can then lead to other issues (particularly if you are trying to fall pregnant). It was advised that I start off on two 1000 unit dosages per day (with food), have my levels re-checked in 3 months and if they still weren’t satisfactory, then the dosage would be increased.
Definitely get out there and get your sunshine – here they recomend 10 to 15 minutes on your arms in the morning sun daily – and keep up with your supplements. It’s scary what Vitamin D deficiency can lead to and do to your body!

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

It appears recommendations in Vitamin D levels have been tripled in november 2010 in the USA and Canada, although not all scientists agree on the benefits of such a level of vitamin D in blood and many studies on the subject are going on right now.

Probably somebody’s making a profit there.

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TAMASHA! September 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm

@Helene-
Actually doctors only recently began routine screening of patients for vitamin D deficiency after a Canadian study at MUHC was published in the March 2010 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study in addition to declaring a surprising ‘epidemic’ of vitamin D deficiency was also the first to show a clear link between vitamin D levels and accumulation of fat in muscle tissue. Though the study shows a clear link, there is still no clear evidence that vitamin D supplementation could result in less fat in muscles or increased muscle strength. “Vitamin D insufficiency is a risk factor for other diseases,” said Dr. Richard Kremer, the principal investigator of the study at the research institute, ‘Abnormal levels of vitamin D are associated with a whole spectrum of diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular and autoimmune disorders,” he said.

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Hélène September 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

OK, Tamasha, but at the same time, people who don’t go out to get exercise, will lack vitamin D, and also burn less fat ;)

In my own time, I’ve seen medical theories sell opposite theories, so I think it’s a little bit strange that all of a sudden everybody in the World is lacking vitamin D. A friend told me today almost everybody is lacking magnesium, which is explained partly by the change in alimentation (refined wheats don’t hold it). Ok, I can see the logic in that. But why should everybody suddenly lack sunlight, I really don’t get it… ;)

In France, traditionnally doctors give vitamin D to babies and small children, but not to adults.

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TAMASHA! September 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm

@Helene-
‘But why should everybody suddenly lack sunlight, I really don’t get it… ;)’

There are quite a few reasons why everybody should lack sunlight- do you not recall the huge SKIN CANCER scare? We went from using tanning lotions in the 70′s to sunSCREENS in the 80′s to complete 50+ sunBLOCKS in the 90′s. People were strongly advised to stay out of the mid day sun, tanning became unfashionable, sunshine was not our friend anymore- sunshine causes CANCER & PREMATURE AGING!!!
Or so we were all told.
Are you sure your friend is not selling magnesium supplements?=)

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Mat Diplo September 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

@TAMASHA!,

I was also wondering if vitamin D deficiency has increased due to a modern cultural obsession with “low fat” eating. I understand that A, D, E, K are fat soluble, therefore, would a reduction in fat correspond with a reduction in vitamin D levels due to poor absorption? Look forward to your expert opinion thanks.

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TAMASHA! September 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

@Mat-
Yes, thank you for asking.
The standard modern WESTERN medical advice -eat a low cholesterol diet, take cholesterol lowering drugs, avoid the sun, combined with a recommended daily intake of vitamin D that is only a tenth of what many researchers believe to be sufficient all seems to pave the way for widespread vitamin D deficiency. Since vitamin D-rich foods are also rich in cholesterol, low-cholesterol diets are inherently deficient in vitamin D. Since cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol with drugs will also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D. Since sunlight is required to turn cholesterol into vitamin D, avoiding the sun will likewise undermine our ability to synthesize vitamin D.
Although Vitamin D is best known for its role in calcium metabolism and bone health, new roles are continually being discovered for it, including roles in heart disease, anti-inflammatory actions, osteoarthritis, hyperparathyroidism, hypertension, chronic pain, muscle weakness & coordination, multiple sclerosis, obesity, mental health, blood sugar regulation, the immune system, and cancer prevention.
The ‘cholesterol hypothesis’ (that cholesterol is an agent of disease)
which has dominated WESTERN medicine is NOT supported by a large body of evidence in the form of unbiased research or epidemiology. Mr Abdullah rightly pointed out that the healthcare community in the United States (predominantly) does not understand the physiological role of fats and sterols such as cholesterol.
As for your question about vitamins A, E and K-
Although vitamin A is found only in foods of animal origin, some fruits and vegetables contain compounds, called carotenoids, that can be converted into vitamin A by your body. Colorful vegetables and fruits like carrots, spinach, & sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids. Animal sources of preformed vitamin A include calf liver, milk, and eggs. Consuming additional β-carotene from supplements is unlikely to be beneficial and may actually be harmful.
Vitamin E- α-Tocopherol, is most biologically active form of vitamin E and can be found most abundantly in wheat germ oil, sunflower, and safflower oils.
Vitamin K is found mostly in leafy greens such as spinach, chard & cabbage. Some fruits like grapes, kiwi & avocado contain high amounts of vitamin K. Bacteria in the colon synthesize a significant portion of humans’ vitamin K needs. For this reason some newborns often receive a vitamin K shot at birth, in order to tide them over until day 5-7 when their colon becomes colonized with helpful bacteria. Because vitamin K is fat soluble it’s bioavailability greatly enhanced by the presence of fats. For instance cooked spinach has a 5 percent bioavailability, add fat to the spinach and the bioavailability increases to 13 percent.
Hope this answers your questions!

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Mat Diplo September 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Thank you! It is always a pleasure reading your comments. If only you make a website on health or write a book on it (or both)…it would become the bible of healthy living, helping numerous people for sure. With so much conflicting and confusing information on the web about low fat / high fat / low carb / high carb diets from these get-rich-quick diet “gurus” your postings are a breath of fresh air; they are insightful, refreshing, and helpful–and I’m sure I speak for everyone here.

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karen September 15, 2011 at 10:36 am

I’m a pastey white American from New Jersey and I have vitamin D deficiency too. The first time my doctor checked my level it was 6.9 when it should range from 32.0-100.0. So now she has me taking a weekly D2 prescription vitamin for the next few months it’s 50,000 iu. I also take a gummy multivitamin called Vitafusion Multivites 200% vitamin D. Supposedly 2 gummies are equal t o 1 cup of broccoli for vitamin A, 1 tangerine for vitamin C, and 3 oz of salmon for vitamin D. My vitamin B12 is also low so I get shots every now and then when I see the doctor. Do you have any kind of stomach problems like IBS? My doctor said that can cause you not to absorb all the vitamins from your food correctly.

http://www.biovea.com/au/product_detail.aspx?NAME=MULTIVITES-GUMMY-VITAMINS-FOR-ADULTS-200-Gummies&PID=2524

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Sharell September 15, 2011 at 10:43 am

Hi Karen, thankfully I don’t suffer from anything like that. I just don’t get outside in the sun very often unfortunately. :-( And I always take a multivitamin/mineral supplement — have done so for years — so I think that has helped in other areas. I’ve also heard/read that it’s better to take naturally derived D3 than D2 which is a synthetic form of Vitamin D.

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Abdullah K. September 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

@ prithviraj33
Bill Clinton wasn’t a vegan till he became 50-something. Moreover, he is the ex-president of United States. He has access to nutrition that is pretty much unafforable by your average run-of-the-mill vegan. So he is not a very good example of the health ‘benefits’ of a vegan diet. Veganism is a lot like scientology – it is a fad that needs to constantly defend its legitimacy by using celebrity posterboys (and girls).
 
The Northern Chinese people are as tall as your average Punjabi or Haryanvi (who are not typically 6 foot). Not that height is a marker of fitness or health anyway. Punjabis and Haryanvis are heavily afflicted with obesity, diabetes, heart problems and what not, once they are past their youth. In contrast, diabetes and heart attacks are very rare amongst the tribal people of North Eastern India, who are generally smaller and fitter than North Indians. As for good looks, lets not go there.
 
@ TAMASHA!
Ditto. I think most of these cholesterol fear is a result of ‘sponsored research’ by companies who want to sell ‘zero cholesterol’ products. Fats (sterols and fatty acids) are probably one of the most misunderstood nutrients in the United States (and countries where the US pop culture is exported, like India).

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Mat Diplo September 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Re. fat / cholesterol intake:
I do not know the science behind this, I can only speak from personal experience, however, when I increased my fat intake, my body fat levels actually decreased significantly to low single digits (higher fat intake was coupled with resistance exercise–fat was from egg yellow, nuts, virgin olive oil, fish). I do not know why this happened but it surprised me. I often use the following analogy to make sense of this: In order to remove grease from cookware, dish washing liquid is required–both are forms of oil, yet one is required to remove the other. Obviously the body is far more complicated than a cooking utensil; I am eager to find out why when fat intake is increased, fat decreases. Or perhaps I am a medical anomaly AKA FREAK! (Although I seriously hope not). I would love to hear the science behind this if anyone knows–thanks!

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Abdullah K. September 16, 2011 at 11:15 pm

@ Mat Diplo
Fat has a lower glycemic index (GI) than carbs. This means, fats are digested more slowly than carbohydrates, which keeps your blood sugar levels more stable. This keeps you ‘filled’ for a longer time and reduces/prevents visceral fat storage. This is one of the reasons, apart from those mentioned by Tamasha already.
 
Traditional fitness trainers (read ‘quacks’) in the Anglo-American world (and India) seem to believe that dietary fat is to obesity what Bin Laden is to Al Qaeda. The irony is that the country with the biggest ‘low fat’ and ‘dieting’ craze has the largest population of obese and overweight people. In contrast, traditional French, Italian, Chinese or Russian cuisines have a fat content between 20 to 50% and yet most people living on these cuisines are slim and fit.

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Mat Diplo September 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

@Abdullah K., I agree with what you are saying re. GI of carbs vs fat. Perhaps modern dieting advice of cutting out one nutrient or another is leading to problems as you pointed out. I guess we all need to go back to basics and “listen to our bodies” and eat a balanced diet.

I am now eating the “Diplomat Diet” i.e. you bring all nutrients to the table, give them equal importance and value, and do not favour one over the other….then you eat them all!

Bon appetite!

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Ashli September 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

I look forward to that sequel. Along with the vitamin d you might want to build up your iron levels even if they don’t test low pregnancy depletes them very quickly. Eat those green leafy vegetables, which are also a good source of folic acid.

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Manny September 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Now, I am totally confused about what I should or should not eat. Not sure if I should go out in the sun or not.

Screw it all! I am gonna eat what I want, and be merry. If I die, I die! After all, I am coming back to give y’all grief anyway!

:)

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Amit Desai September 17, 2011 at 1:05 am

Eat just about everything. Observe yourself if any particular food give you a trouble. Avoid that kind of food. To assure the internal functions of the body which can not be observed easily don’t get screwed, have an active lifestyle. Just don’t spend to much time lounging with relatives and eating samosas in the living room, instead take them to hiking with you. Simple!

Drastic changes in eating habits to avoid disease is meant for ‘gainers’, proud to be a ‘loser’ in this sense.

Let me tell you one of my real-life experience. One of my drug-dealer ran away to the remote area of Alaska to evade the cops in 1995. After 13-14 years, he came back to the city looking healthier and younger than he was. For these 13-14 years in Alaska, he mainly ate boiled fish and fish and fish, that too with out salt, sugar or any other ingredients.

I heard that fish is good for health. But is only fish good to have a good health? (BTW, he still eats fish most of the time, that too without salt).

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Abdullah K. September 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

It is not all that complicated, really. Eat whole foods and avoid processed food as much as possible. For example use cold pressed and ‘virgin’ oils like mustard or rapeseed oil instead of ‘refined’ oils. Drink whole milk instead of ‘toned’ milk. As far as possible, try to get vegetables and fruits from the source instead of supermarkets.

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marina marangos September 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

I am afaid this is just one of the things that is in fashion at the moment. They tell you you have a vitamin D deficiency – as you can see from your responses a lot of people seem to ” suffer ” from the same problem. I am sorry to say it is all part of over medicalizing here and most of us have no issues with Vitamin D AT ALL. Perhaps question what is normal and where the bars have been set a little more carefully instead of believing what is dished up …Marina

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Mat Diplo September 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

This morning your blog completely disappeared; I tried several times and my browser wouldn’t load it. I then realised I had typed in the following by mistake: “www. White Indian House Fly . com” this is because there was a blue bottle fly buzzing around at the time I was on the web–must have been in my subconscious. Anyway, re. vitamin D…is it the actual UV frequencies of light that produce vitamin D? If so, would a tanning salon bed for say, 10 minutes 3 times a week boost vitamin D–i.e. for use in places that have a gloomy climate like Oregon, Seattle, Scandinavian region etc. Obviously UV light can cause damage to cells so one should not overdo it. Also UV light does not pass through glass so conservatories are useless–I am assuming it has to be outside direct sunlight or perhaps a UV sun bed or lamp???

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TAMASHA! September 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Vitamin D3 is made in the skin when 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with ultraviolet light (UVB) at wavelengths between 270 & 300 nm, with peak synthesis occurring between 295 & 297 nm. The UV lamps in tanning beds produce ultraviolet primarily in the UVA spectrum, but typically produce 4% to 10% of the total UV emissions as UVB.
Dr. Michael Holick, a professor with Boston University School of Medicine and author of The UV Advantage advises “Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D. Depending on the intensity of the beds, we tell people 10 minutes three times a week.”
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has sanctioned Sperti KBD Vitamin D UV-F Lamps as vitamin D-producers. “They work very well for patients who have malabsorption syndrome,” Dr. Holick says. “You can raise your blood levels of vitamin D by being exposed to it.”

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Mat Diplo September 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Also is it possible to overdose on vitamin D from supplements? With sunlight I assume the body stops making vitamin D as a result of positive feedback, but with supplements is it dangerous to take too much vitamin D r will it just be flushed out?

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TAMASHA! September 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm

@Mat-
Vitamin D overdose by ingestion is rare, it has been reported in adults taking MEGAdoses of 50,000IU’s for several months. Vitamin D toxicity is treated by discontinuing vitamin D supplementation and restricting calcium intake.

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Pox September 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm

This whole vitamin D deficiency has always been a bit exaggerated.Many people I know have it slightly off tangent and are doing fine… like that recent apple juice arsenic story in the US which was just scare mongering.

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Sharell September 20, 2011 at 8:10 am

I started taking high strength supplements (5000 UI twice a day), then was up one night vomiting soon after. Still not sure whether I had a virus, something I ate, or the supplements were too much for my body to handle straight away. It hasn’t happened again, since I reduced the dosage to just 5000 IU once a day.

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kay September 20, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Lovely picture! Clean air–lucky you. I’ve had one weekend in Sri Lanka and now I’m back to beautiful (/sarcasm) Delhi.

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Sharell September 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Ugh, is the monsoon still hanging around? I’m hoping it will have departed Mumbai by the time I get back!

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Amanda B. September 25, 2011 at 2:55 am

Hey I just found your blog and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I prefer to date Indian men so this gives some great insight into their culture. If you don’t mind sharing, how tall are you and how tall is your husband? I saw your wedding picture and you look tall (and beautiful!); being tall myself-I was wondering how your height is perceived among Indians.

I added your blog to my favorites so I’ll def keep reading. Thanks for sharing so much great information :)

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Sharell September 25, 2011 at 5:57 am

Hi Amanda B, I’m glad you love the blog. :-) Well, I’m 5’9″ and he’s around 5’7″ — so yes, I’m quite a bit taller than him. He doesn’t care because his mother is taller than his father. However, the fact that I am tall means that I’m taller than a lot of Indians. It makes me stand out a lot more unfortunately. :-(

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Amanda B. September 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

That’s what I thought! You looked as tall as me in your picture and I’m 5’9 too! And most of the indian guys I know are are 2+ inches shorter than me…but it’s ok-their good looks make up for it! And you should consider yourself fortunate to stand out; you look so beautiful that you deserve to be tall enough for everyone to notice, it’d be a shame to blend in!!

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Shivani September 26, 2011 at 6:23 am

I’m sorry to hear that Sharrell. Even I am Vitamin D and calcium deficient and nothing do I hate more than taking those darned tablets. Does the Australian government cover your medical expenses in India too? I have always wondered what happens to expats when they move abroad. I’m thinking of living in Singapore sometime, I still have to pay taxes to the Canadian government, but I wonder if they would still pick the tabs on my medical bills.

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Sharell September 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

Hi Shivani, no unfortunately the government doesn’t cover the expenses of people who live overseas. It’s restricted to the Australian public health system only — it’s called Medicare, and we do pay a levy for it as part of our taxes.

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Shivani September 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

That’s kind of sad. I mean your body is not going to wait to get back home if it wants to get sick. Yes, it is the same in Canada our taxes are even more ridiculous and I’m sure the system is same.

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