We spent past few months avoiding direct sunlight and sought comfort under the air conditioning. According to the National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2014, 72 percent of adult in Korea lacks Vitamin D. This research also shows that 30,000 people have been treated for and spent 1.6 billion KRW on Vitamin D deficiency. Compared to other OECD countries such as Spain, England, France, and Australia where an average of deficiency rate is 60 percent, considerably more Koreans are suffering because of Vitamin D. Despite how Vitamin D deficiency looms over half of grown-ups as a serious health risk, it seems there are few who are aware of the importance of this type of vitamin. For this reason, The UOS Times looked into Vitamin D more deeply to let people know its health benefits and significance.
Vitamin D is a nutrient which can be provided through exposure to sunlight or foods such as fish, eggs, nuts, and dairy products. This particular vitamin plays a major role in strengthening bones as it helps human bodies to absorb calcium. Besides this well-known function, Vitamin D has a lot to do in our body. It produces a hormone called Serotonin that makes people feel happy. Vitamin D also lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis* and contributes to creation and activation of immunocyte**.
A person without an appropriate amount of Vitamin D is likely to experience some side effects. As mentioned earlier, Vitamin D is involved in releasing of hormones, so a low level can result in tiredness or depression that can affect one’s daily life. Vitamin D deficiency can also trigger tooth decay or infection in oral cavity as it is highly related to calcium absorption. Moreover, it can cause diabetes or osteoporosis and problems in immune system. To sum up, a lack of Vitamin D can seriously harm one’s health so one should try to meet the recommended Vitamin D level.
As briefed above, Vitamin D performs vital functions in a human body. A few traits in the contemporary society prevent our bodies from getting enough Vitamin D. Firstly, due to an indoor-based lifestyle, people begin to experience vitamin deficiency although only one to two hours of exposure to sunlight per week is necessary. Secondly, worsening air pollution made people to avoid going out at all. For instance, in Korea, fine dust has been a big problem in recent years, becoming another reason to remain inside. Thirdly, there is a risk of skin ailments when exposed to certain UV rays, so many people are reluctant to enjoy the sun. Lastly, preference to pale skin also influenced some people to avoid sunlight.
The best way to obtain Vitamin D is exposing one’s legs and arms to the sun. Even though there is a way to get Vitamin D through some foods, it is very hard to supplement Vitamin D just by eating. Thus The UOS Times highly recommends our readers to replenish 10 to 20 minutes under the sun twice or three times a week between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the most suitable time for sunbathing in short sleeves and pants. Sunlight helps obtaining Vitamin D; however, overexposure causes skin problems so keeping the time limit is essential. If it is hard to go out because of fine dust or other reasons, taking nutritional supplements can be helpful.
Making a long story short, Vitamin D serves a lot of purposes and its shortage may bring negative consequences. Vitamin D deficiency was never recognized as a medical issue because getting a moderate amount of sunlight was naturally achieved just by staying under the sun. Nevertheless, many people tend to avoid sunlight and remain inside because of social, environmental, and physical influences. As social circumstances change along with lifestyles, the time when we have to make a conscious effort has come. Regular exposure to the sun or vitamin supplements could be a quick-fix solution to the related health complications.
*Osteoporosis: a condition of weakened bone that it is easy to cause a fracture.
**Immunocyte: a cell that has power to fight against pathogens or toxins that have invaded a living organism.