Sunshine as the doctor ordered | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 23, 2020

ls editor’s note

Sunshine as the doctor ordered

I heard stories about how my dada, meaning my paternal grandfather, rubbed mustard oil on my months-old-body and played with me in the sunshine; stretching my limbs, making me lie on my tummy to strengthen my back, and fooling around to make me giggle. A sweet routine, which my mother then secretly abhorred because she thought too much sunshine and oil deepened further my already dark complexion.

There is no such thing called too much sunshine, we realise that now, my mom and I, and how important and necessary that routine was for me as a baby. And I understand that the colour of the skin never really mattered, though my mother begs to differ.

So, when the other day, I saw my mom soaking in the morning sun in her veranda and flipping through the newspaper, a practice she maintains for years now, I bantered, if she, who was consuming her daily dosage of sunshine vitamin, would now go dark sitting under the sun? And I sat down beside her to enjoy the sweet sun myself. While talking about the sunshine vitamin, she replied "Vitamin D3 is an all-encompassing supplement required for our bone health, immunity and muscle growth." I was impressed with her answer. Yet, I retorted, that ever since her toddler age, she has been exposed to sunlight and has been drinking milk for calcium and yet suffers from the lack of these very supplements in her old age.

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My mother does suffer from ailments related to osteoporosis and lack of vitamin D, the constant aches and cramps. It got me thinking that we, living in a tropical country, have always been exposed to sunlight and also have decent shares of fresh milk, but why do we still suffer skeletal ailments relating to lack of Vitamin D3 and calcium?

I wanted to understand this point and called my cousin, who happens to be a physician, who said that only people like mom and I suffer from the lack of it, because the majority of people in the villages, or people working outside, have no complain from the lack of D3. We hate the sun because we are concerned about wrinkles, ageing, and skin cancer, and are always living in an air-conditioned environment. And this very lifestyle has led to this deficiency.

If we don't have vitamin D in our body, then the calcium and phosphorous that we consume from our diet is not sufficient — and without enough calcium and phosphorus, our bones can become brittle and break easily, in addition to other health problems. Vitamin D is the key player here and it is produced in our skin naturally when exposed to sunlight. The main job of vitamin D is to keep the right amount of calcium and phosphorus in our blood, which work together to make our bones healthy and strong.

Until recently, the main role of vitamin D was to keep our bones healthy and prevent them from breaking, but now, it is believed that vitamin D also helps reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, improves our mood and reduces depression, and boosts weight loss.

So, we try to pack more vitamin D into our daily routine by sitting under the sun, eating vitamin D rich food and taking supplements as prescribed by a healthcare professional only.

The sun shines at its happiest during the monsoon months, its sweet and bright, not scorching at all, so enjoy the sunshine vitamin as much as possible.



Model: Arpita

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