Articles on vitamin deficiencies

Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Dr. Namrata Surati, Homeopath
A Critical NutrientVitamin B12 is a very important nutrient. It is required for proper red blood cell formation and for the development of the nervous system. A deficiency of vitamin B12 is a serious nutritional concern, resulting in anemia and changes in the function of the nervous system. While milk and eggs contain vitamin B12, no plant food naturally contains the vitamin. Unless they consume a B12 supplement or foods fortified with B12, a vegan is at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.What are the symptoms of B12 deficiency?If blood levels of vitamin B12 drop below normal values, ANEMIA results. This may be followed by impairment in cognitive function.Other symptoms include:- Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs- Weakness and excessive fatigue- A range of psychiatric disorders including disorientation, depression, mood disturbances, irritability, memory loss, difficulty in concentration, and dementia.Some people also experience an inability to maintain balance when walking, and a loss of position sense. Many B12 deficiency symptoms may be due to other causes, therefore, it is wise to be examined by a health care provider to determine the cause of the symptoms.What are the long-term consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency?Infants who are vitamin B12 deficient often display signs of developmental delay or regression both physically and mentally. These delays may have a long term consequence on the child, lasting into adulthood. In the elderly, neuropsychiatric disorders caused from a vitamin B12 deficiency are often irreversible.Why are babies at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?A baby born to a mother who has been a strict vegetarian and who has not had reliable sources of vitamin B12 for a number of years is especially at risk. Unborn babies have a special need for vitamin B12 and this need may not be met by a mother deficient in the nutrient. In addition, the infant may not receive sufficient levels of B12 in breast milk, when breast-fed by a vitamin B12-deficient mother or a woman whose diet is not adequate in vitamin B12.Vitamin B12 deficiency may develop in a breast fed infant within 3-6 months of age. A child with a vitamin B12 deficiency may become apathetic, lethargic, and experience failure to thrive.Can the elderly also be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency?Yes. As people age, there is a decrease in the secretion of stomach acid as well as a drop in the digestive enzyme pepsin. As a result, digestion of vitamin B12 from protein is diminished, inhibiting the amount of B12 available for absorption. People over 50 years of age may show neurological changes due to vitamin B12 deficiency. It is believed that a considerable number of elderly patients have neuropsychiatric disorders due to vitamin B12 deficiency. How long does it take to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency?Since the liver does store extra vitamin B12, and the body has a recycling process for B12, it may take an adult 3-10 years to develop a deficiency once intake of the nutrient has ceased. If one’s past vitamin B12 intake has been very low, a deficiency may manifest itself in much less than 3 years after cessation of intake.How much B12 do we need?Only about 2 ½ micrograms of vitamin B12 is required per day. A cup of milk has about 1 microgram of B12, while a cup of soy or rice milk contains from 1 to 3 micrograms, and a serving of B12-fortified commercial cereal has 1.5 micrograms. Vegetarian meat analogs that are fortified may contain anywhere from 1 to 6 micrograms of vitamin B12. More and more vegetarian foods are being fortified with B12, but it is imperative that one read the food label, as fortification levels may change from time to time.What foods are reliable sources of B12?Milk, yogurt and cheese, along with eggs, are the only vegetarian food items that naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12. Plant foods may be fortified with B12. These include rice and soy beverages, plantderived meat analogs, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast. It is important to read the labels for these foods as not all products and brands have B12 fortification, and the amount of fortification can change with time.What foods are unreliable sources of vitamin B12 although they claim to contain a sufficient amount?While claims are made for tempeh, miso, and other fermented soy products, as well as spirulina, some seaweeds, brewers yeast, and leafy vegetables, these foods do not contain any significant level of vitamin B12.Can’t we make our own B12?Yes. The bacteria in our colon make vitamin B12. However, the absorption of B12 takes place higher up in the gastrointestinal tract, near the end of the small intestine. Therefore, it is unavailable for use in the body.Are all supplements good sources of the vitamin?Since the body has a limited capacity for absorption, there is really no reason to ingest more than 10 to 50 micrograms of vitamin B12 supplement per day. Larger amounts are very poorly absorbed and wasted. For effective absorption, a B12 tablet must be dissolved under the tongue or chewed. B12 capsules normally dissolve in the gastrointestinal tract and are readily absorbed. Sub-lingual B12 sprays are also a useful source of B12.SummaryVitamin B12 deficiency is not uncommon. Vegans must be especially careful to get adequate amounts on a regular basis, preferably daily. A daily B12 supplement is necessary when B12-fortified plant foods are not regularly consumed. Nutrition labels on processed foods must be carefully studied to determine how much B12 is supplied by one serving of the food.

Benefits of Vitamin C for Skin, Hair and Health

Ms. Anu Priya, Alternative Medicine
Vitamin C is the most familiar of all the nutrients because of its widespread use as a dietary supplement. Vitamin C is very critical for human beings, and all mammals can use their own cells to make Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in our body and because the body does not store Vitamin C in its tissues, we need to consume it on a regular basis.Our body needs Vitamin C to make collagen – a protein that helps support tendons, ligaments and blood vessels and keeps the skin and other organs together. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps strengthen our immunity system, thus protecting us from diseases.Vitamin C Foods And Sources: Citrus fruits, Chilies, Bell peppers, Amla, Kiwi, Berries, Papayas, Pineapple, Guava, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherries, Tomatoes, Apricots, Cabbage, Turnips, Peas, cloves, mango, spinach, potato, Herbs like thyme, parsley, basil, cilantro, green coriander and chives are also good sources of Vitamin C.Health Benefits Of Vitamin CVitamin C will benefit your health in a great way. Read below to know the amazing health benefits:Immunity: A healthy dose of Vitamin C protects our body from infections and maintains healthy bones and teeth. It also improves our body’s ability to repair wounds and keeps us immune from bacteria, viruses and infection. Not only is it a well-known component of our immune system, it is also necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. Vitamin C, taken orally, helps wounds heal faster and better. Applied topically, it protects the skin from free radical damage from the exposure to UV rays.Common Cold: Vitamin C reduces the severity of cold symptoms and acts as an effective antihistamine that lessens the unpleasant effects of the common cold, including inflammation, runny nose and aches. It also controls the allergy that causes the cold. It reduces the histamine level and often shortens the duration of the cold.Antioxidant: Vitamin C is a powerful and effective antioxidant that protects our body from free radicals that cause oxidative stress, or ”cellular rust”, that can lead to a host of severe medical conditions such as atherosclerosis, that can cause both heart disease and stroke.Hypertension: Vitamin C lowers the blood pressure and decreases the probability of hypertension as well as serious health problems that may accompany high blood pressure.Blood Vessels: Vitamin C also ensures the proper dilation of the blood vessels which helps to protect us against certain diseases like atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, heart congestion and severe chest pains.Lead Toxicity: Vitamin C helps lower the level of lead in our blood dramatically. Lead toxicity can lead to various behavioral and developmental problems, especially in children living in urban areas. This leads to learning disabilities, lowered IQ and stunted growth in children. Adults may suffer from kidney damage and high blood pressure owing to lead toxicity.For Weight Loss: Vitamin C fruits and juices are proven to help people lose fat and maintain healthy weight. Popular dieticians and nutritionists always include Vitamin C fruits and vegetables in diet charts because there is scientific evidence that shows that eating Vitamin C rich foods on a regular basis helps in losing weight significantly. Doctors have found that eating Vitamin C fruits lowers insulin. Thus, instead of storing sugar and converting it into fats, it uses it as a fuel that leads to weight loss.Stress: Vitamin C helps the body deal with stress by reducing the elevated levels of stress, hormones and cortisol. Cataracts: Our eye pupils require Vitamin C to function properly. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to cataracts, where the lens become increasingly opaque, causing a blurry vision and leads to blindness in adults. A high intake of Vitamin C fights against cataracts and increases the amount of blood flow to the eye. 1000 mg Vitamin C per day stops cataracts in their tracks and improves vision.Cancer: Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties protect the cells from DNA damage and mutation and protect from cancer in the long run. It supports the body’s immune system and prevents certain cancer forming compounds from forming in the body. It reduces the risk of development of all types of cancers including lung, mouth, throat, colon, stomach and oesophagus. Vitamin C also helps to regenerate Vitamin E which is another powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C does not directly attack cancer that has already occurred but keeps the immune system nourished and enables to battle against cancer.Energy: Vitamin C balances our internal body systems under countless environmental conditions. It aids in the production of dopamine in the nervous system and supports the adrenal function for increased metabolic energy.Heart Disease: Vitamin C prevents heart disease by preventing free radicals from damaging the artery walls, which could lead to plaque formation. This nutrient also keeps the cholesterol from oxidizing, which can cause heart stroke. The problem of high blood pressure can also be resolved with this wonder nutrient. All these factors combine to make Vitamin C an inexpensive and easy way to lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.Diabetes: Diabetic patients can also benefit from Vitamin C as it helps in regulating the sugar levels, reducing the risk of getting diabetes and improving the symptoms of the existing cases. Supplementing Vitamin C forces glucose in the body cells, where it protects against many complications of diabetes.Asthma: People with low level of Vitamin C have a high chance of developing asthma. Greater intake of Vitamin C will lessen the body’s production of histamine which contributes to inflammation.Vitamin C Benefits For SkinVitamin C is the most important ingredient used in skin care treatments. Its ability to provide an effective shield against the sun has made it an indispensable ingredient used in the cosmetic industry.Sun Protection: Vitamin C protects our skin from free radicals that develop due to excess exposure to the sun, environmental pollution and regular smoking. The antioxidants in Vitamin C protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation and the effect of sunlight exposure.Vitamin C helps to reduce sun burns caused by the exposure to ultra violet radiation to a great extent. It not only reduces sun burns but also prevents the consequences of long term sun exposure that can lead to skin cancer.Production Of Collagen: Vitamin C is a required component for the production of hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, both of which are needed to bind the molecules that produce collagen. This, in turn, firms and tones the skin. Collagen deficiency makes the skin dull and lifeless. Collagen rejuvenates the skin from the roots and reduces wrinkles and symptoms of aging.Heals Wounds: The body uses Vitamin C to replace the damaged tissue and helps to heal the wound at a faster pace. Wounds that heal slowly indicate Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C improves the skin elasticity and helps to create scar tissue and ligaments for quick recovery.Protects Against Skin Discoloration: Vitamin C protects DNA from photo-chemical reactions that can lead to tumor, skin discoloration and several kinds of skin cancer. It also inhibits the production of Pyrimidine dimer that are the primary cause of melanomas in humans.It lightens dark discoloration like skin freckles and age spots and helps to get a younger and smoother skin.Improves Skin Texture: Collagen also provides the structure for the blood vessels. The tiny blood vessels under the skin carry oxygen and nutrients that keep the skin healthy. Without enough nutrients, the skin will become rough and dry. Creams containing Vitamin C improve the appearance and texture of the skin.Vitamin C increases the formation of elastin which thickens, protects and heals the skin cells. The thickening effect helps retain moisture, increases the skin circulation and plumps up the skin surface.Vitamin C Benefits For HairIn order to get a healthy mane, we need to eat healthy food. A healthy diet reflects in our skin and hair. Vitamin C is more than an antioxidant and plays an important role in improving the health of our skin and hair. Vitamin C provides many benefits for the hair.Improves Hair Growth: Low intake of Vitamin C may be a root cause for a number of hair-related problems that affect our hair growth. Vitamin C deficiency may result in dry hair and split ends. These conditions are unfavorable for the regular growth of hair.When our body turns food that we consume into glucose for energy production, free radicals are naturally formed. These free radicals damage our hair by making it weak, brittle and thin. These conditions interrupt hair growth. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties reduce the formation of free radicals and minimizes their effect on our body. Having an adequate supply of Vitamin C in our diet is essential for antioxidant protection against free radicals.People who take huge amount of Vitamin C have healthy, strong and thick hair.Fights Dandruff: Our hair follicles often get clogged due to dandruff and dry, flaky skin. This can damage the hair follicles if not treated, and also inhibit the hair growth. Vitamin C helps fight the bacteria on the scalp. It wards off dandruff and helps to get rid of the follicles’ debris and encourages the growth of new hair. It also helps with dry and itchy scalps because of its antiviral properties.Stops Hair Loss: It is used to reverse adrenal gland fatigue. This is crucial for stopping hair loss and encourages more hair growth since the adrenal glands are the key to maintain proper hormonal balance.Thicker Hair: It also helps improve the blood circulation and strengthens and repairs the capillaries too. This is particularly important for getting stronger, thicker hair.Fights Hair Disorders: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for damaged hair and thus, treats and prevents a variety of hair disorders which can damage the hair follicles and affect the normal growth of hair. A diet containing significant levels of Vitamin C can help combat alopecia and baldness in men.Prevents Greying Of Hair: Vitamin C not only helps combat hair loss but also helps retain the natural color by preventing the premature aging of the hair.Now that you know the benefits of Vitamin C, make sure you are taking it in the recommended amounts.

Vitamin D - Essential Vitamin for Weight Loss

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Do you also blame some food you ate for those extra pounds on your waist? But now new research have shown that the reason may be the food you are not eating. New study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that Vitamin D might be a key nutrient to help you lose weight.Widespread survey data is also indicating higher weight among groups of people with lower Vitamin D levels, that helps to regulate hormones that are effective for managing weight, thyroid, the body's natural fat burning ability and more. Vitamin D is an important nutrient required in the body for proper functioning of every cell. Special receptors for vitamin D signal whether you should burn fat or simply store it; when vitamin D plugs into these receptors, it's like a key that revs your body's flab-melting mechanism.Daily recommended requirement for Vitamin-D is 600 IU-700 IU till the age of 70 years. This can be obtained from exposure to sunlight for 10-15 minutes daily.Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be a factor in the accumulation of excess body fat. In the absence of sufficient vitamin D the body increases the number and size of newly formed fat cells that promote and accelerate abdominal obesity. Also, Vitamin D in conjunction with calcium helps to properly assimilate food and regulate normal blood sugar levels. When there is a lack of calcium, often times due to a vitamin D deficiency, the body increases production of synthase, a fatty acid enzyme that coverts calories into fat. Calcium deficiency can cause increase in synthase production explaining the correlation between low levels of vitamin D and obesity.Vitamin D is also a pro-hormone that becomes activated in the kidneys to become a potent hormone that controls the growth of cells. In the absence of sufficient circulating levels of the active form, both adipocytes and cancer cells are allowed to multiply relatively unchecked.Sufficient levels of vitamin D signal fat cells to shrink. This makes weight loss much easier when calories are restricted and also might keep cancer cell growth in check. Regulating vitamin D intake can help your body burn abdominal fat and lose weight. Ensure you have enough of this critical nutrient circulating in your blood to promote good health and natural weight loss diet.Vitamin D SourcesThe main Vitamin D source is sunlight. Human skin has special precursor 7-dehydrocholesterol which converts UV sun rays to Vitamin D and supply approximately 90% of dietary requirement. But nowadays because of less exposure to sunlight and use of sunscreen inhibit the production of vitamin D in body. Sunscreen can inhibit the production of vitamin D by 90-99% depending upon SPF of the cream. Another reason for Vitamin D deficiency is air pollution which can trap some of the UVB rays, so less of them are able to reach your skin at any time of day.Apart from sunlight the main Vitamin D food sources are milk & dairy products, eggs (yolk), cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel. For those on dairy free, vegetarian diets might need to supplement with fish oil supplements. To increase your vitamin D intake include vitamin D rich food in your snack time. For example, you can include plain buttermilk with any fruit or small handful of nuts in between your meal.

Vitamin Therapy for Infertility

Dr. Swetha Thumula, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
‘Vitamins keep us healthy’, is a perpetual fact. But how many of us actually know that vitamins can also make us fertile and productive? Vitamins are very closely associated with human fertility. People dining on more of these nutrients are generally more fertile than those who succumb to taste than health.Now, let’s have a closer look on how these nutrients can pave our way towards aspiring fruitful parenthood.Vitamin D – According to a research conducted in 2008, men suffering from infertility were also found to have vitamin D deficiency. According to Dr. Anna Clarke, a fertility expert and the lead researcher in conducting the study, vitamin D was always very closely associated with female infertility but this study revealed that this nutrient was equally needed for fathers-to-be.A screening was done with 100 men, who were asked to change their lifestyle for good. They quit smoking, kept off from alcohol and caffeine, lost weight and consumed a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. 11 of them were able to impregnate their partners naturally without any treatment.In another research conducted in 2009, revealed that there are Vitamin D receptors in human sperms. Vitamin D is locally present in the human sperm and may be responsible for signalling the cells in the human reproductiveVitamin C – It was also proved that 1000 mg of Vitamin C intake daily improves the sperm quality, motility and morphology and thereby increasing the chance of natural conception.Vitamins E and B12 – These have been found very useful for a better sperm motility rate. A study published in Archives of Andrology supports the fact as well.Zinc – Men suffering from lower testosterone level saw a significant improvement after taking properly diagnosed doses of zinc for up to six weeks. Most of their female partners got pregnant naturally during the course.Antioxidants – In a research conducted at the University of Portsmouth, a bowl of tomato soup, rich in Lycopene, consumed daily can increase male fertility up to 12 percent. The antioxidants are found to remove the free radicals that adversely affect fertility in men.People intending on natural conception must include lots of fruits, nuts and cereals in their daily diet. However, in spite of eating healthy and leading a disciplined life, couples may have infertility issues. See a fertility specialist to know the actual reason behind your infertility and find a solution to overcome it.

Why Children and Adult Need Vitamin D

Dr. Nishant Mahajan, Pediatrician
Children need vitamin D for bone growth and development. So do babies developing in the womb. This is because vitamin D helps us absorb calcium.Serious vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, delayed motor development, muscle weakness, aches and pains, and fractures.Vitamin D deficiency in adults has also been linked to osteoporosis, some cancers, heart disease and diabetes.If women don’t get enough vitamin D during pregnancy, their children might develop neonatal hypocalcaemia (not enough calcium in the blood) or rickets later in childhood.Vitamin D and sunlightYou need sunlight on your skin for your body to make vitamin D. You get about 80% of your vitamin D this way.The amount of sun you need depends on where you live in, and the time of year.But no matter where you live, you have to be careful about how much sun you get on your skin. Too much sun can lead to sunburn, skin damage and even skin cancer.Children might be at risk of vitamin D deficiency if they:keep all their skin coveredspend most of their time indoors and don’t get much or any sunhave a condition affecting how the body controls vitamin D levels – for example, liver disease, kidney disease, problems with absorbing food (such as coeliac disease or cystic fibrosis and some medicines can affect vitamin D levelshave darker skinhave been breastfed for a long time and have a mother whose vitamin D is low.Signs of vitamin D deficiency include rickets, delayed motor development, muscle weakness, aches and pains, and fractures.Treating vitamin D deficiency: Talk with your Pediatrician if you’re worried about your child’s vitamin D levels, or you’re pregnant and think you might have low vitamin D.Your doctor can order a blood test, which is the best way to check vitamin D levels.For mild deficiencies, your doctor might say that your child needs to get a bit more sun.If you or your child has a severe vitamin D deficiency, your doctor might say you or your child should take vitamin D supplements, as well as getting more sun.If you or your child can’t get more sun, the doctor might say that taking vitamin D supplements is the best thing to do. You might take a vitamin D supplement in one large, single dose, or you might take a supplement for several weeks or months.

Importance of Vitamin D for Women

Dr. Sangeeta Malu, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient required for all kinds of bodily functions. It is important especially for women who suffer from more deficiency diseases as compared to men. The major source of vitamin D is sunlight. Some fish like salmon and mackerel also have vitamin D. Any kind of deficiency disease needs to be avoided at all costs. A healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet are key factors in avoiding such health problems. How Does Vitamin D Affect Women? In women, Vitamin D helps prevent various health issues. Some are:Vitamin D increases fertility by at least 6%. Also it lowers progesterone and estradiol which often causes infertility. In pregnant women, it is beneficial for mother and also the child.It reduces chances of breast cancer as it lowers rate of cancerous cell growth in the breast. That is because it actively works in all cells of the body.Brittle bones and arthritis is a common problem in women. However adequate quantity of Vitamin D will improve bone strength. Vitamin D deficiency can drastically increase the chance of hip fractures in women. Most women with osteoporosis or other bone issues are found to be lacking in Vitamin D.Vitamin D provides support to certain killer cells in the immunity system of the body. Such killer cells destroy harmful pathogens.In pregnant women it can create many problems like gestational diabetes or even pre-eclampsia.In some women, deficiency of vitamin D may lead to irregular hormone production and hormones regulate all bodily functions.Vitamin D or "sunshine vitamin" as it's sometimes called, can help avoid or even cure many diseases. It can help avoid lifestyle diseases, polycystic ovarian syndrome and other problems. Scientific studies have shown the benefits of getting a daily dose of this essential Vitamin. Thus, the importance of vitamin D for women cannot be overruled.

Calcium Deficiency and How to Remove It

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for our blood to be able to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis. Many published studies show that low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates.most people are not getting the calcium they need to grow and maintain healthy bones. THE ROLE OF CALCIUMCalcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis. studies show that low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates. Main function of Calcium - Calcium is required for bone mineralization (bones & teeth), muscle contraction (heart), nerve transmission, and blood clotting. Used to treat osteoporosis, osteopenia and hypocalcemia. You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium has many important jobs. The body stores more than 99 percent of its calcium in the bones and teeth to help make and keep them strong. The rest is throughout the body in blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. It is important to get plenty of calcium in the foods you eat. Calcium Rich Foods :Low fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, and leafy, green vegetables. The exact amount of calcium you need depends on your age and other factors:Growing children and teenagers need more calcium than young adults.Older women need plenty of calcium to prevent osteoporosis.People who do not eat enough high-calcium foods should take a calcium supplement. Milk and Calcium Low-fat or fat-free milk is a great source of calcium because Milk contains a lot of calcium in a form that the body can easily absorb.Milk has other important nutrients that are good for bones and teeth. One especially important nutrient is vitamin D, which helps the body absorb more calcium.Milk is widely available and is already a part of many people's diets.CALCIUM DEFICIENCYWhile a balanced diet aids calcium absorption, high levels of protein and sodium (salt) in the diet are thought to increase calcium excretion through the kidneys. Excessive amounts of these substances should be avoided, especially in those whose calcium intake is low. Lactose intolerance also can lead to inadequate calcium intake. Those who are lactose intolerant have insufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the lactose found in dairy products. In order to include dairy products in the diet, dairy foods can be taken in small quantities or treated with lactase drops, or lactase can be taken as a pill. There are even some milk products on the market that already have been treated with lactase. CALCIUM DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS calcium deficiency can result in or cause certain conditions that may result in poor health.  include adequate amounts of fresh green leafy vegetables and low fat dairy products to ensure adequate intake of not just calcium but vitamin D and phosphorous. Additionally getting adequate exposure to fresh air and sunlight each week, will ensure absorption of Vitamin D. Myth - White spots on the fingernails are a sign of calcium deficiency. They are not. Rickets are the softening and weakening of bones in children, which may be the result of extreme vitamin D deficiency, which in turn makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones. Osteoporosis, meaning "porous bones," is when bones become weak and brittle that even mild stresses like bending over, lifting heavy items  or coughing can cause a fracture. In most cases, bones weaken when you have low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in your bones.CALCIUM DOSAGEIf you have trouble getting enough calcium in your diet, you may need to take a calcium supplement. The amount of calcium you will need from a supplement depends on how much calcium you obtain from food sources. There are several different calcium compounds from which to choose, such as calcium carbonate and calcium citrate, among others. Except in people with gastrointestinal disease, all major forms of calcium supplements are absorbed equally well when taken with food. Calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken in small doses (500 mg or less) several times throughout the day. In many individuals, calcium supplements are better absorbed when taken with food.  Calcium  Overdose Potential side effects of excessive consumption of calcium Decreased absorption of other minerals such as iron, zinc, and manganese if taken at the same time. Constipation is an early sign of overdosing. 

The Top 15 Vitamins for Women

Dr. Rajiv Mehta, Physiotherapist
1. Vitamin AVitamin A is known to have many beneficial properties for women.Benefits• Vitamin A has anti oxidant properties• This vitamin helps to rebuild and strengthen the bones, skin, soft tissues, teeth and mucous membranes• Eye sight is improved• Aging process is slowed down• Immune system is boostedFruits and vegetables rich in vitamin A are:• Spinach• Whole eggs• Liver• Milk• Papaya• Red peppers• Kale• Peach• Fortified cerealsThese amongst others should be made a part of one’s daily or weekly diet.2. Vitamin DThis vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin that is obtained mainly from sunlight as well as certain types of food items like:• Fatty fish• Milk• Eggs• LiverBenefits• It is known to activate calcium and phosphorus which are the minerals required to keep the bone strong• The risk of multiple sclerosis is reduced• Cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments like depression are resolved by stepping up the dosage of vitamin D• It is known to reduce the symptoms of PMSOne should increase their exposure to the sunlight daily in order to prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis.3. Vitamin KThis vitamin is known to play a major role in the human body in different ways.Benefits• It will help to promote strong bones• It helps to maintain normal blood clotting function in people• It helps to reduce the risk of different kinds of heart disease• It is known to help fortify the immune system as well as provide energyThe main sources of vitamin K are:• Green, leafy vegetables• Soybean oil• Fish oil• Whole grain food productsAs one ages, vitamin K is necessary in maintaining the bone health as well as normal blood functions.4. Vitamin B6Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine and it is known to promote many vital functions of the body:Benefits• It helps one to enjoy a healthy immune system• It helps to produce particular hormones and brain chemicals which in turn can help reduce depression, memory loss and heart diseases• It can even help to maintain the blood sugar levels• Pregnant women need to have vitamin B6 whose lack of presence can lead to anemia and morning sicknessThere are many food groups that one can take up to increase the level of this vitamin in their system:• Meats• Bananas• Beans• Oatmeal• Seeds• Fortified cereals• Avocado• Fish5. Vitamin EVitamin E is known to contain many beneficial properties for the human system, especially for women.Benefits• This vitamin helps to promote anti aging properties which is of great benefit for women• It can help to fight cell damage that is related to aging• It can even prevent heart disease• It can prevent the formation of cataracts• Other benefits are prevention of memory loss and certain cancersIf one takes up food rich in this vitamin they will be able to enjoy healthy skin and hair. It is included in most skin and hair care products. The main food items that are rich in vitamin E are:• Hazelnuts• Margarine• Corn oil• Cod liver oil• Almonds• Spinach• Sunflower seeds6. Vitamin B12It is essential that women consume food products that are rich in vitamin B12 as it aids many of the functions in the body.Benefits• It is important for the metabolism process• It helps the normal cell division process• It aids in preventing memory loss• It can help normal nerve and brain functions to occur• Deficiency of the vitamin can lead to depression, confusion and irritability as well as mouth and tongue inflammationsIt is best to incorporate the following food items in one’s diet to ensure that this vitamin is taken in right proportions:•    Cheese•    Fish•    Eggs•    Meat•    Yogurt•    Milk7. Vitamin CMost women are aware of the benefits of vitamin C and its sources as it helps to boost the immunity levels. There are many health benefits as well that this vitamin provides.Benefits• It fastens up the healing process• Promotes the growth of tissues• Reduces the risk of cancer• Reduces the risk of heart diseases• It also plays a key role in the red blood cell formation processThere are many vitamin C enriched fruits and vegetables:• Broccoli• Grape fruit• Kiwi• Pepper• Oranges• Tomatoes• Sprouts• Strawberries8. Vitamin B9This vitamin is known to be a great friend to maintaining a healthy system in women.Benefits• It helps to prevent heart diseases• Reduces high blood pressure• Can help to counter depression and Alzheimer’s• Memory loss and cancer is also prevented• Fetal development and fertility is promoted in women by this vitaminOne can gain this vitamin in the following food items:• Dark green and leafy vegetables• Asparagus• Melons• Strawberries• Legumes• Orange juice• Eggs9. Vitamin B7Vitamin B7 is known to help synthesize many important nutrients in the system.Benefits• It can help in the formation of glucose and fatty acids• The vitamin keeps the hair, skin and sweat glands healthy• Normal cholesterol levels are maintained as well as bone growth and bone marrow• With high levels of this vitamin one can keep aside problems like high cholesterol levels, depression and anemiaSome food items that are best sources of vitamin B7:• Egg yolks• Soybeans• Oatmeal• Cheese• Milk• Yogurt• Pepper• Brown rice• Yellow fruits• Potatoes• Yams10. Vitamin B2Vitamin B2 is known to offer the following benefits.Benefits• It is essential for maintaining good health• It ensures normal growth as well as normal metabolism process• It will help one to get adequate energy• It helps to strengthen the immune system• The tingling or numbness that is felt by diabetic people can be reduced by this vitamin• The reduction of fatigue, stress and anxiety is possible with this vitamin• One can increase the dosage of this vitamin in order to prevent wrinkles, mouth ulcers, sore throat, itchy skin and other symptomsFoods that are rich in vitamin B2 are:• Organ meat• Leafy vegetables• Eggs• Cereals• Soy bean• Nuts• Mushrooms• Cheese• Milk• Yogurt11. Vitamin B3Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin. It is known to have many beneficial properties.Benefits• It can help women look younger due to its anti ageing properties• It helps aging women increase the ability of their skin to retain moisture• There is an effective barrier that is set up against bacteria, viruses and other antigens• It helps to increase the good cholesterol levels and lowers the triglycerides or the fats in the blood•  If skin is inflamed, the hydration levels are boosted by this vitamin in order to reduce rednessIt is often found in serums, creams and lotions.12. ThiamineThiamine or vitamin B1 is part of an enzyme that is required for many functions.Benefits• It helps the enzyme to boost energy metabolism effectively• It is vital for the nervous system to function effectivelyIt is found in the following food items in small or moderate amounts:• Legumes• Seeds• Nuts• Pork• Whole grain food13. Pantothenic acidThis is a vitamin that is not mentioned frequently but it has its own unique role to play.Benefits•    It helps in the proper functioning of several enzymes•    It ensures the proper metabolism of the food in the system for energy release14. BiotinThis vitamin too has a vital role to play in the human system.Benefits• It forms the essential part of many enzymes• It helps to ensure that the energy metabolism process is going fine.15. FolatesThis has several functions in the human body.Benefits•    Helps in the DNA formation process•    Creation of new cells•    Creation of new blood cellsThis vitamin is found in the following food products:•    Green and leafy vegetables•    Orange juice•    Liver•    Seeds•    Refined grains•    LegumesAs a woman do you worry about your health? Not only is the right diet a key to younger looking skin and hair, it will also help to ensure that you stave off various ailments and diseases.

Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C Fixed

Dr. Narendra Mahara PT, Physiotherapist
Good for a cold?Your immune system needs vitamin C to work right. But extra won't help you avoid a cold, unless maybe you're an extreme athlete, live in a very cold place, or you just need more anyway. Supplements might shorten a cold or ease its symptoms -- if you were taking them before you got sick.Prevents cell damage Vitamin C helps you get rid of chemicals that damage your cells and DNA. It's considered an antioxidant: It neutralizes "free radicals" in your body created by pollution, cigarette smoke, sunlight, radiation, and simply turning food into energy. That could help keep many parts of your body working better for longer and protect you from diseases, including Alzheimer's and cancer.Builds skin, bones, muscles, and moreYour body would fall apart without the protein collagen. Collagen fibers twist around each other to form scaffolding for your bones, cartilage, skin, and muscles (including your heart). They're also in ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. You need collagen to grow new skin and make scar tissue when you get cut and to keep your skin from getting wrinkles. And your body can't make collagen without vitamin C.Brain boosterYou need vitamin C to make key hormones that carry signals from your brain all over your body. These include serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. They affect your mood, memory, motivation, and how you feel pain. For example, serotonin plays a role in keeping your daily sleep cycle on track. It's also what a common drug for depression works on.May preserve sightThe vitamin A in carrots isn't the only thing that's good for your eyes. Some studies show that vitamin C might slow age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse, but it won't prevent the disease. Other studies suggest a link between vitamin C and a lower risk of cataracts.Fights cancerVery high doses of vitamin C, especially through an IV, may slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. It can help chemotherapy and radiation work better. It may help you feel better and have fewer side effects, too. But it can also make treatments less effective. The FDA hasn't approved vitamin C as a cancer treatment, so check with your doctor to see if this therapy makes sense for you.Here are some ways by which you can fix your daily dosage of Vitamin C and no, they don't include only tangerines:From fruits Look beyond the usual oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Berries -- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries -- are also good sources. So are papaya, kiwi, pineapple, cantaloupe, plums, and watermelon. Even bananas, apples, and pears have some.Fresh and raw are best because vitamin C breaks down over time and when heated.From VeggiesBell peppers are big winners. Load up on leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, collards, and the like), cabbage, and bok choy. Crunch into broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are also good sources.It's better to steam or microwave vegetables if you're going to cook them. These methods tend to destroy less of the vitamin. How much do you need? Adult men should get 90 milligrams every day. Women need 75 milligrams, but more when they're pregnant or breastfeeding. Your body can't make it. But most people who eat a variety of vegetables and fruits daily get more than enough vitamin C from their food.If you want to take a supplement, look for the inexpensive ascorbic acid form. Check with your doctor about how much is right for you.Smokers need more When you smoke, you'll have lower levels of vitamin C in your body. It may be because you have more free radicals to get rid of. You should aim for an extra 35 milligrams every day to make up for it.People who are around smokers are also affected and should try to get more vitamin C, too.Too little in body Through the 1700s, sailors on long trips would die from scurvy because they had little or no vitamin C in their diet. It's uncommon today, but people who don't eat well or abuse alcohol or drugs might be low. Medical conditions, such as some cancers and kidney diseases, can also cause problems. Symptoms include being tired, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, achy joints, thickened skin, bruises, and cuts that don't heal right.Too much in body Your body can't handle a lot of vitamin C, and you'll pee out what it doesn't use. More than 2,000 milligrams a day for adults can cause stomach trouble, belly cramps, and diarrhea. Big doses can also lead to kidney stones.Partner with other nutrientsPut red peppers in your spinach salad. Have some broccoli with your baked beans. Or add strawberries to your oatmeal. Vitamin C helps your body use the kind of iron found in plants, which doesn't get absorbed as easily as the kind in meat and fish.Vitamin C also teams up with other antioxidants, especially vitamin E and flavonoids. Bonus: They're often found in the same foods.

Vitamin – D, Essential for a Healthy Life

Dr. Ravindranath, Diabetologist
VITAMIN D is an organic chemical compound, when it can’t be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism & must be obtained through diet. Vit. D is not essential dietary vitamin in strict sense. It is synthesized in adequate amounts by most mammals when they are exposed to sun. Surprisingly, cats and dogs can’t synthesize vitamin D and must receive it in diet. As with other compounds called vitamins, vitamin-D was discovered as to find the dietary substance that was lacking in a disease, namely, rickets.Vitamin D (Sunshine Vitamin) is a group of fat soluble secosteroids responsible  for intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate (from food to blood stream)Two forms are:-D2 – ERGOCALCIFEROL & D3 – CHOLECALCIFEROLRegular sources are:-Diet Supplements / Fortified foods: e.g. margarine, some cereals, infant formula milk.SunshineIf one is at home, or it’s winter time, one may not be getting vitamin D from the following sources:Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced by UVB irradiation of precursor 7 – dehydrocholesterol. Our skin makes Vitamin D­3 and supplies about 90% of our Vitamin D. Vitamin D­3 is richly found in oily fish and cod liver oil.Vitamin D­2 (Ergocalciferol) is a derivative of erosterol, produced by fungi e.g. mushrooms. It is produced from ergosterol, by UVI. The fate for producing 25 (OH) D2 from D­2 is same as for 25(OH) D3.Vit-D sources are oily fishes (such as sardines, pilchards, herring, trout, tuna, salmon and mackerel), fortified foods (this means they have vitamin D added to them) such as margarine, some cereals, infant formula milk, cod liver oil, egg yolk, liver and mushrooms (contain small quantities vitamin D). However, UVB remains the richest & biggest source.Symptoms of hypovitaminosis-D:-Bone pain and muscle weakness are commonly seen. Low blood levels of the Vitamin have been associated with increased risk of death from CVD, cognitive impairment in elderly, severe asthma in children & a wide variety of cancers.Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:-One doesn’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time.Strict vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources are animal based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver. Hypovitaminosis D is a risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms in older personsThe body makes vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. One may be at risk of deficiency if:-homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings (naqab, burka) for religious reasons, or occupation that prevents sun exposure.For a fair skinned person, 20-30 minutes of sunlight on the face and forearms around the middle of the day 2-3 times a week is sufficient to make enough vitamin D in the summer months. For people with darker skin and elderly, the amount of time needed exposed to sunlight to is much more.It is nothing the same as sunbath. The skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight. The sunlight has to fall directly on the bare skin. Sunlight through a window is not enough.LimitationsOne has dark skin. The pigment melamnin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Elder adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.Kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. With ageing, kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of Vitamin D deficiency.Digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D.Certain medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, affect intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food.Obesity- Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater have low blood levels of vitamin D.Certain medicines which interfere with Vitamin D. These include:-CarbamazepinePhenytoin,Primidone,Barbiturates and,Antivirals for HIV infection etc.Serum levelsSerum concertration of 25 hydroxy vitamin D (Calcidiol) is used to determine Vitamin D status. It reflects Vitamin D produced in the skin and acquired from the diet (half life of 15 days). It does not reveal the amount of vitamin D stored in body tissues. The level of serum 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D is not used to determine vitamin D status (half life of 15 hours) and is regulated by parathyroid hormone, calcium & phosphate, so it is not decreased significantly until vitamin D deficiency is well advanced.2,5 Hydroxy vitamin D blood test.20 nanograms / milliliter to 50ng/mL – adequate for healthy peopleLess than 15ng/mL – vitamin D deficiency(mild to severe)10-15 ng/mL       -     mild5-10 ng/mL         -     moderate<5 ng /mL           -      severeTreatmentIt aims at getting more vitamin D – through diet & supplements. A concentration of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter is considered inadequate, requiring treatment. The safe upper limit is 4000 IUs to optimize bone health.If one don’t spend time in the sun or always covering the skin (sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production), vitamin D supplement may be required.Inadequate nutritional intake of Vitamin D coupled with inadequate sunlight exposure (inadequate UVB rays) results in disorders that limit Vitamin D absorption, and conditions that impair the conversion of Vitamin D into active metabolities includes certain liver, kidney, and hereditary disorders. Deficiency results in impaired bone mineralization and leads to bone softening disease including rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults.Deficiency - Bone diseasesRickets, a childhood disease characterized by impeded growth and deformity of the long bones.The earliest sign of subclinical Vitamin D deficiency is craniotabes i.e. abnormal softening or thinning of the skull.Osteomalacia (bone – thinning disorder) exclusively in adults.There is proximal muscle weakness and bone fragility.Osteoporosis, a condition characterized by reduced bone mineral density and increased bone fragility.Muscle aches and weakness (in particular proximal limb girdle)Muscle twitching (fasciculations)RequirementTo prevent rickets and possibly also a wide range of chronic non skeletal disease.600 IU of Vitamin D / day for those 1-70 years.800 IU for those over 70 years of age.1 IU vitamin D is the biological equivalent of 0.025µg cholecalciferol / ergocalciferol. Pregnant or breast feeding women consider taking 2000 IU / day. All babies who are exclusively breastfed receive a supplement of 400 IU/day. Obese individuals have lower levels of the of Vitamin D, because of reduced bioavailability & are at risk of deficiency. To maintain blood levels of calcium, therapeutic vitamin D doses are administered (up to 100,000 IU or 2.5 mg daily) to patients who have had their parathyroid glands removed (renal dialysis, primary hyperparathyroidism) or with hypoparathyroidism.Patients with chronic liver disease or intestinal malabsorption disorders also require larger doses of vitamin D (up to 40,000 IU or 1mg daily).The use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8, inhibit more than 95% of vitamin D production in the skin. Wearing full clothing prevents skin exposure to UVB and reducing vitamin D synthesis.The clothing worn on a consistent and regular basis, such as the naqab, burqa is correlated with lower vitamin D levels and increased prevalence of Hypovitaminosis D.Reduced pigmentation of light skinned individuals results in higher vitamin D levels, because melanin acts like a sun-block. Dark skinned individuals, may require extra vitamin D to avoid deficiency at higher latitudes. The natural selection hypothesis suggests that lighter skin colour evolved to optimize vitamin D production in extreme northern latitudes.Vitamin D deficiency causes osteomalacia (rickets in children). Low serum vitamin D levels cause falls, and low bone mineral density. There is not enough evidence to indicate that healthy postmenopausal women should use supplemental doses of calcium or vitamin D to prevent fractures. Supplementation with Vitamin D and calcium may improve bone mineral density slightly, as well as decreasing the risk of fractures in people, older than 65 years.No benefit to bone health from Vitamin D without sufficient calcium.Multiple sclerosisHypovitaminosis D is associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).Supplementation with Vitamin D have a protective effect. Reasons follows:MS frequency increases with increasing latitude, which is inversely correlated with duration and intensity of UVB from sunlight and vitamin D conc.Prevalence of MS is lower than at high latitudes in populations with high consumption of Vitamin D rich fatty fish.MS risk seems to decrease with migration from high to low latitudes.Hypovitaminosis D associated with some cancers (prostatic) and worse outcomes in other cancers. Low levels of Vitamin D in pregnancy are associated with gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and LBW. Pregnant women who take an adequate amount of vitamin D during gestation, experience positive immune effects.OthersInfluenza – for high rates for influenza infection during the winter.Viral Infections – factors include low relative humidities produced by indoor heating and low temperatures that favour virus spread.Low levels of Vitamin-D is a risk factor for tuberculosis.Asthma – low levels of vitamin D.Supplemental Vitamin D is recommended in promotion of human hair growth.Rickets - A childhood diseaseImpeded growth, soft, weak, deformity of the long bones that bend and bow under their weight as they start to walk. This condition is characterized by bow legs, which can be caused by calcium or phosphorus deficiency as well as a lack of vitamin D. It is found in low-income countries in Africa, Asia or the Middle East. OsteomalaciaAdults with chronic musculoskeletal painSoftening of the bones, leading to(1)     Bending of the spine,(2)     Bowing of the legs,(3)     Proximal muscle weakness,(4)     Bone fragility, and increased risk for fractures. Osteomalacia reduces calcium absorption and increases calcium loss from bone, which increases the risk for bone fractures(25-hydroxyvitamin D levels < 10 ng/mL).OsteoporosisIt is defind as decrease in bone mineral density and the appearance of small holes in bones due to loss of minerals.There is vitamin D inadequacy (<10 ng/ml).Osteoporosis and osteomalacia are closely associated.There is higher risk of fractures and bone loss.Supplementing with Vitamin D increase bone density & can significantly improve the reduction in risk of osteoporotic fractures (especially hip fractures).ToxicityVitamin D overdose causes hypercalcemia, and so are the symptoms, e.g. anorexia, nausea and vomiting polyuria, polydipsia, weakness, insomnia, nervousness, pruritus & renal failure.Proteinuria, urinary casts, azotemia and metastatic calcification (especially in the kidneys).Mental retardation in young children,Abnormal bone growth and formation,Diarrhea, irritability, weight loss, & severe depression.SummaryIt is important for good health, growth and strong bones. Vitamin D is mostly made in the skin by exposure to sunlight. Most foods contain very little vitamin D naturally, though some are fortified with added Vitamin D.A mild lack of Vitamin D may not cause symptoms but can cause tiredness and general aches and pains. A more severe lack can cause problems such as rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults).Treatment is with Vitamin D supplements.Special care forSome people are more at risk of Vitamin D deficiency and so are recommended to take Vitamin D supplements routinely. These include:All pregnant and breast feeding women All infants (babies) and young children aged 6 months to 5 yearsPeople who are above 65 years andPeople who are not exposed to the sun muchA doctor may also recommend routine supplements for certain people with darker skin and for people with certain gut, liver or kidney diseases.