hello sunshine


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I have always had a fantastic relationship with the sun. I am a true tropical creature who basks in the warmth of the sun. Two downcast days and I feel depressed. Yes, I know sunshine lifts my spirits.

It was still morning. Sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds. One moment, the grey clouds threatened to swallow the sun but the next moment he came out as if smiling and enjoying this game. The sun’s rays were still very soft. I sat on the roof soaking in the goodness of the gentle warmth with a newspaper in hand. A koel was singing somewhere closeby. While the households were witnessing frenzied activity, here I was relaxing on the terrace making small talk with the husband who was lovingly tending to his vegetables, picking out a weed here, plucking some ripe tomatoes and brinjals and stirring the compost bin.

I was feeling more energetic slowly beginning to return to normalcy. I felt my stamina improve gradually. It all must have started a few months ago though I am not sure when. Gradually, I started feeling tired. First it was by evening. Then it started happening by afternoon. Then came a time when I woke up really exhausted unable to face even the normal daily chores. Exhausted, I snapped at everyone as I tried to wonder what had gone wrong with me. My routine health checks showed all my parameters normal. I tried to improve my diet and even took a multivitamin but it did not help.

The tipping point came when I was unable to do my regular brisk walking, something that was second nature to me. Frightened I got comprehensive bloodwork done. And that is when a month back the problem was found – extreme Vitamin D deficiency. What I knew was the Vitamin D was responsible for effective absorption of Calcium in the body. So clearly my Calcium stores must be depleted. What I didn’t know was that its deficiency caused debilitating fatigue. Aware now, I approached a doctor who put me on Vitamin D supplements. Luckily, Vitamin D is easy to replenish in the body. It has been 3 weeks since I started on that medication and finally I see a bit of my old self surfacing again.

But I will be on supplements for 6 months before my levels go back to normal. Yes, the supplements are not magical wands. Initially I am on a massive 60000 IUs dose per week for 8 weeks. Then it will taper down to 1000 IUs per day for another 4 months after which I will get my levels checked again.

Here are some points to remember about Vit D absorption:

  • Your skin cannot make Vit D through filtered sunlight. So sunlight coming through glass is not effective. You have to be outdoors.
  • You need an exposure of 30-40 minutes per day on an average. The darker your skin tone, the more time you need in the sun as compared to light skinned people. At least 15-20 minutes per day should be attempted by everyone. Make sure that the sun’s rays are adequate. Early mornings and early evenings are the best times to be out in the sun. Cloudy days are not good enough.
  • Even minor sunblock as low as SPF 8 will hinder Vitamin D absorption. Massive use of sunscreens around the world is one of the prime reasons for Vitamin D deficiency. Yet remember to use sunscreens in harsh sunlight to protect your skin from skin cancer. Just don’t use it all the time.
  • Fish is a good dietary source along with egg yolks. Yes, I started eating egg yolks again (yuck). Yet, it is almost impossible to get it from food. You have to get your daily dose from the sun or supplements.
  • Lack of Vitamin D can cause depression. So watch out for that. These are lesser known direct problems associated with inadequate Vit. D.
  • No matter how much Calcium you consume, it will not be assimilated by your body without adequate Vitamin D. Hence you are at the risk of brittle bones, osteoporosis and fractures if you are Vitamin D deficient.

The doctor didn’t ask me to (she should have) but now I sun bathe every single morning. It is not as if I wasn’t an outdoor person earlier but I am more conscious now.

Why I am sharing this experience is because I know many of us are not really aware of the connection between Vitamin D and fatigue. Most of us just battle on when we are tired hardly thinking that there may be a physiological reason behind it. Just be conscious if you experience the same. Tank up on your sun. It is a shame that in a country blessed with natural sunshine, 69% of the population is Vit D deficient and further 15% is Vitamin D insufficient according to this article. Is it because, we hardly go out in the sun especially in our cities as we traipse from car to office and office to car on most days?

Thank heavens I found out what was troubling me! Do not neglect any minor health issue that you may face.

Stay healthy! Stay blessed!


sunshine gives Vitamin D

Pics courtesy: Justhappyquotes.com



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73 Thoughts on “Hello sunshine!

  1. So true Sunshine cheers us all for for next month or so It is monsoon time so Sun will be cherished even more as and when he shows not to say that I will not enjoy the monsoons… 🙂

  2. yes my nephew suffers from that deficiency .. but too much is also bad ..

  3. Glad to hear you take care of yourself, Rachna! I had similar experience in Australia of all places. ‘Vit. D deficiency in this sunny weather?!’ – was my reaction to the doctor’s verdict. ‘But do you stay in the sun for at least 20-30 minutes every day?’ – was the answer. So, now I keep a full spectrum desk-lamp at work, to avoid the blues, and I stay in the Sun at least 20-30 minutes per day…plus take some Vit.D supplements. A good health is the first step to a good life 🙂

    • Wow! Indeed. Yes, 30 minutes of exposure is fine at least in the Indian sun. But, lighter skins need lesser time unlike darker skins like ours that require more sun exposure. You are doing everything perfectly :). I will be doing the same from now on. Nothing replaces good health!

  4. yea.. Vit D deficiency causes a lot of issues and I know loads of people who experience fatigue and do nothing about it blaming it on age!! how can 30 odd yrs be old?!

    I take Vit D regularly too (had deficiency and was prescribed the med) and make sure I get my everyday dose of sunlight. I stay away from sunscreen unless its absolutely necessary. A bit of a tan is ok I feel.

    Take care Rachna and I hope you feel your usual normal energetic self soon! hugs!

    • True! And women especially blame everything on age for some reason. We are also so lax about our healths. Thanks a lot, Pixie for your wishes! Hugs back.

  5. I too had this symptom of fatigue and could not understand what was wrong with me. Then I was diagnosed with this and prescribed supplements. Take care, and get your daily dose of sunshine.

    • And I see that it is so common. Almost all the commenters here have had it. I think there ought to be more awareness about this especially from our doctors. Thanks! I will now.

  6. Glad you were able to identify the cause early. These days many health issues are identified due to the lack of vitamin D or D3. S was very low on it when he had knee pain. Doc gave him high dosage for 3 weeks and now he is using a pill daily. Even I started taking one and observed that my knee pain is gone…yep, eat healthy and stay healthy 🙂

  7. Glad to know you are better with such a simple fix! But, tell me, how much exposure to the sun is typically sufficient in a day? Is there data on that? Five minutes? Half hour?

    • Yes, I still have a few months to go with my level of deficiency but at least I am on my way to recovery. I have updated the post with pertinent information after your comment. Thanks for reading!

  8. I am a victim of Vitamin D deficiency as well.. now my supplements have come down to a sachet every week for a few weeks with a gap in between and so on. But every doctor I spoke to had the same thing to say, nothing can give you as much supplement as the Sun can….

  9. I guess, half an hour exposure on open arms or legs is sufficient. Preferably early morning sun. I had to take those Vit D sachets too. Pertinent post Rachna. Most urban women suffer from Vit D deficiency.

    • Yes, half an hour is normally adequate! Early morning sun is good and so is early evenings or late afternoon. The period between 11 am to 4 pm is best avoided especially in summers. It is so sad that most of us suffer from this and there is so little awareness about this. Thanks for reading, Alka!

  10. janu on July 10, 2014 at 9:16 am said:

    Now-a-days everyone is Vit D3 deficient. Me included. That was the reason for the fracture in my leg while running. Even the Orthopedic whom I was consulting could not understand the problem as I was taking Vit D supplements. It will sure become a bigger health issue if not treated properly. Am not a morning person….:(

    • Gosh! I hope you are taking corrective measures now. It is okay if you are not a morning person, catch some sun in the late afternoons. You can do it. Just try it. You will find your moods getting better too :). I did!

  11. A good informative post. Like Janu says, most people these days are probably somewhat Vitamin D deficient because of the lifestyle. The tips you share here are easy and doable by most. Thanks Rachna. And glad to know you are beginning to feel better already. Wishing you health and healing.

    • Thank you, Beloo. I hope the post helps everyone become conscious about Vit D3 deficiency. If even one person benefits, it will be a job well done. Thanks for the wishes!

  12. Thank Google for the fact that I knew of this from before. Always used to feel out of sorts when work kept me indoors all day in the past. NOW, thanks to a sit-out (you know of) facing west, I can always get the evening sun without too much trouble. Provided it is not clouded over, of course 🙂

    • I knew about it too, Suresh :). That is the tragic part. I am baffled that I was still deficient. But what I did not know is that fatigue could be related to Vit D deficiency. Yep, you have a lovely sitout and I have a sitout and a terrace that comes in handy :). Thanks for reading!

  13. Informative post, Rachna!
    Yes, we need to take care of our health! May the Sun shine on us & may we be blessed!

  14. I wrote something similar a while back ! For me it is not Vit D deficiency but SAD .. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I feel low and depressed on rainy days or cold days that have no sun !
    This was a very informative post and it is rather disturbing to know that in a country blessed with so much sunshine, there are so many cases of Vit D deficiency !

    • Yes, I’ve read about SAD. I was just hoping that sharing my experience may help someone somewhere. This seems to be an epidemic but even the doctors don’t seem clued in. How terribly sad!

  15. Very true Rachna. Even I have been on Vit D Supplements.. will probably again get my levels rechecked to see where I am. In a country full of sunshine such as ours, its a crying shame that we have so much Vit. D deficiency around.

    • I agree, Ash! It is so common that there ought to be chapters dedicated to this in schools and colleges. I will keep getting my Vit. D levels checked periodically henceforth.

  16. Take care Rachna … Even my mom got diagnosed with Vit D deficiency last week…The doc says women are more susceptible to it… I won’t be surprised if I’m deficient too…Glad to know you are getting better and thank God you didn’t ignore it…

    • Thanks, Naba! I thank my lucky stars that I did not end up with a fracture or something. It is scary and the fatigue was killing me. I still have months to go to get back to normal. I think checking for Vit D deficiency must be mandatory in every blood checkup.

  17. Vitamin D is very underestimated!!

    Take care Rachna!

  18. I don’t love sunshine but as you said, I still bask to get my share of Vitamin D. Thanks for sharing those points.

  19. Thank you.Saru, for reading! Just hoping that my experience will be helpful to someone.

  20. Morning walks are the best way to get this sunny dose. But most of us opt for bed instead of morning walks.

  21. We Indians run away from the sun. ‘Kale Pad Jaoge’. Little do we realize that our body requires a little bit of it everyday. Vitamin C as you this. This was a very informative post.

    • Haan that is also one reason. So terrible, no? In my case, I was baffled. I am very much an outdoor person and never use sunscreen. Glad you liked the post and found it informative.

  22. Even I had gone through this treatment of Vit D powder mixed in milk once a week for 8 weeks. Now, though I don’t sit directly under the sun, I think I get enough sunlight while coming back from the beach road at 6.30 am (morning walk). We go for nearly 4 kms. to and fro. Chennai sun is famous, but I have got a doubt now, it this much mild sunlight enough?

    • I think you must check your Vit D levels again and do that regularly. I also wonder if very soft sunlight is of any use. I’ve read that the rays must be strong but not too strong so as to cause sunburn.

  23. Rahul on July 11, 2014 at 11:33 am said:

    Most of the Indians and more so urban population suffer from lack of Vitamin D. What a pity in a country which has such abundant sunshine round the year:( Get well soon! BTW your blog link did not appear in my reading pane this time!

    • Thank you, Rahul. So tragic isn’t it? I am surprised that you did not get a notification. Can you try subscribing or following the blog again! Thanks!

  24. This deficiency is so underestimated. And I am sure many of us have it. Glad that you caught it early.

  25. Absolutely.
    Sun Shine is the best disinfectant in the world

  26. My comment has vanished 🙁

  27. I was wondering if i had been lazy in reading or you have been slack in blogging.Glad you found out the cause of your lethargy soon enough–yes we often neglect to find out the cause of such things.
    Staying indoors in front of coolers or ACs and not walking at all –only from car to office and vice versa adds to the problem.

    • I haven’t been slack in blogging at all, Indu :). If anything, blogging is a great medium to relax for me. In July I have been caught up with work so wasn’t able to write much. For me actually, it was surprising because I work from home, do not sit in an AC office, am physically active, don’t use sunscreen and go out in the sun. But whatever it was, at least I found out. Thanks for reading!

  28. It’s sad, but true, that, in a sun-rich country like India, many people have Vitamin D deficiency these days.
    Good for you that you got to know about your Vit D deficiency and have started corrective treatment!
    Even better that you’ve shared this information in this post.

  29. Good insights.

  30. Vitamin D deficiency is the most common affliction. Like you said, it causes tiredness and mood-swings. Also, it hinders the absorption of calcium.

    But if we step out without a sunscreen, how do we protect ourselves from the harmful UV A and UV B rays?

    • I know what you are saying, Purba! We must only use sunscreen in harsh sun.Early mornings and late afternoons warrant no sunscreen. And that is the time we must try to tank up the sun. Thanks for reading!

  31. Its true that we do need sunshine on our skin. During childhood days we used to put oil on our body and sit outside to soak in the morning sunshine.

    Two prescriptions for you. 🙂

    You should eat green chillies.

    And while sunbathing, listen to “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…” by John Denver. 🙂

    • I remember those days, Sabyasachi! My mother used to massage mustard oil on our skins and put us in the sun. I wish I could have continued with that ritual. I like your prescriptions: I love green chillies :). And yes I will remember to listen to that song :). Thanks for reading!

  32. I got diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency last year when I went for my annual checkup! Probably because I am indoors in the office the whole day! I too got a booster dose to rev up my levels and am now consciously taking calcium with vitamin D to stabilize my levels!

    • Glad you found out the deficiency! The sad part is that Vitamin D check has be to be asked for specifically and is not a part of regular blood work. I think it should be considering the scale of the deficiency.

  33. Oh lord, I didn’t know of such a thing. The only thing related to Vitamind D deficiency I remember is Rickets – learned that in school. Even I dont get any time in the sun. Hmm..time to be conscious about these things.

    Glad you found what was troubling you…

  34. Sighhhh! I am on Calcium and Vit D supplements right now! Same story as yours. All of it! Fatigue, irritability, minor depression, the whole package! it is such a nuisance! All because of lack of enough sunlight!

    • Here in Bangalore, we don’t really get that much sun. Besides, I work from home so all the more difficult. I am glad that you got the diagnosis. It was killing me before I found out.

  35. I had gone through this depression phase. One doctor prescribed vitamin D and then asked me to test for thyroid. Yes, I had thyroid problem. Only thing is we should have the luck to go to a right doctor.

    I read newspaper in the sunlight now!

    Thanks for sharing this, Rachna!

    • There had been no sun here for many days now, Sandhya. Waiting for the soft sun to come out. I’ve totally stopped using sun screens and enjoy the sun now. Yes, we have to go to the right doctor. Most doctors just think it is anemia. Glad you liked the post!

  36. Came here from your cooking blog Rachna. My latest blood reports confirmed that I have extremely low levels of Vit D. The doctor put me on a medication for a month. While that explained my constant feeling “Low” or fatigued, it also made me sit up and take notice of my health. I stroll on my terrace after lunch. And sit in the warm sunshine for 15 minutes. Slowly the exhaustion and the low feeling are also leaving me. Thank you for this post.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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