26 October, 2008

Sun, Vitamin D, SAD

When I was a young kid, most of my afternoons, after coming back from school, were spent on the terrace of our house, basking in the sun. Mom would keep hot meals ready for us and we would enjoy vegetable pulao, hot and fresh, with curd and pickle. We would do our homework there and sometimes I would sleep with my grandmom, there, till the time it was evening, and sun had gone down. Mind you, we were very unaware of sunscreens and all, at that time. Yet, we had the best possible skin, hair, nails and health.

Similarly, at night we did not have AC. We would sleep on the terrace, in cool breeze, gazing the starlit sky and listening to my grandmom's stories. We would wake up when the Sun started hurting our eyes. At times at night, when it started raining, we would quickly have to get up, fold our sheets and run down, with our pillows in hand.

Such things are unheard of now. I have not seen any of today's kids ever experiencing this. They would not compromise their AC rooms and sun would not disturb them early morning because the rooms are covered with heavy drapes. They would mock, if you tell them to have an afternoon meal at the terrace.

Recently, I spent two months in US. I noticed how weather was a general topic of discussion amongst everyone there. Plans for the weekend depended on weather forecasts. We seldom discuss weather in India. It is October in Delhi. Yet it is not winter. I still enjoy nice beautiful sunshine. In US, I was freezing in the month of May, June. In India, I am wearing a nice floral skirt even in October. Now I think, India has the best weather. Yes we do have polllution, but we also have SUN.

Do you know that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder, is caused by the lack of light in winter? It is a specific type of major depression. It can appear as the onset of major depression in the fall (September through November) and the symptoms abate in late winter to early spring (March through May). Also, the frequency of SAD can vary depending on the amount of sun in relation to the geographic location. The lack of Vitamin D may contribute to chronic fatigue and depression.

The benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical to the proper formation of the skeletal structure. Its purpose is to maintain blood levels of calcium in the correct, normal range and to tell the body to absorb more calcium from food as needed.

Osteoporosis is strongly associated with low Vitamin D. Maintaining normal storage levels of Vitamin D in your body helps keep bones strong and may help prevent osteoporosis in elderly, non-ambulatory individuals and post-menopausal women.

Food sources of Vitamin D include: Milk, which is fortified with Vitamin D. However, it is important to know that dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream do not contain Vitamin D.


  1. I really enjoyed the part about the old terrace. I too love sleeping outdoors, though I don't get to do it very often. I never wore sunscreen in my life and pretty much don't believe in any of the latest "disorders"and the drugs for them but I am with you fully on the vitamins.
    It's true there's so much talk about the whether here. When my husband and I were in Ireland for a few months, where it's pretty cold all year round, we really learned to appreciate the "never wait for the whether" attitude.

  2. Yes Agnes one should ebjoy being outdoor.
    In India (Delhi) we get to see Sun all year round and actually do not have to wait for good weather to plan things. Do plan your next trip to India/ Delhi soon.

  3. Hi Kiran,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Being a fitness freak, your blog is awesome :)

    I, too, miss the terrace during summer vacations and moral stories by elders!

    Never knew yogard/curd do not contain Vitamin D.

  4. Thanks Manasa. So you also have terrace memories. No one does it these days no?

  5. Great informative post Kiran!

    I knew abt SAD before...and I know how imp Vit-D is.

    ty for this post!


  6. I think I lost my previous comment.

    A great informative post Kiran!

    I knew abt SAD before...and I know how imp Vit-D is.

    tnxx for this post!