Like so many Muslim women I have been diagnosed with low vitamin D, however I choose to get my vitamin D the way Allah intended via the sun, any where I can strip off in a secluded spot, I’ll expose those long bones of my arms and legs to the sun, early in the morning when others are sleeping, i’ll sneak out side with my hijab and sun hat on for my 15 minutes of sun rays, we go on holidays alhmdulilah and sunbath on the roof, take ferries boats to secret and much forgotten islands or even push up the sleeve of my abaya (oh how daring) as i’m driving , to absorb as much sun as possible in the time permitted.more needs to be done by the people mainly men in charge of the designing and planning of mosk, masjids and Islamic spaces, like providing sun spaces for hijaabi women to sunbathe.
Cholecalciferol is the drug usually prescribed for the current “epidemic” of vitamin D deficiency.
It is produced industrially for use in vitamin supplements and to fortify foods by the ultraviolet irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol extracted from lanolin found in sheep’s wool. Paraphrasing a more detailed explanation, cholesterol is extracted from wool grease and wool wax alcohols obtained from the cleaning of wool after shearing. The cholesterol undergoes a four step process to make 7-dehydrocholesterol, the same compound that is stored in the skin of animals. The 7-dehydrocholesterol is then irradiated with ultra violet light. Some unwanted isomers are formed during irradiation. These are removed by various techniques, leaving a resin which melts at about room temperature and usually has a potency of 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 International Units per gram.
Rodents are somewhat more susceptible to high doses than other species, and cholecalciferol has been used in poison bait for the control of these pests. It has been claimed that the compound is less toxic to non-target species. However, in practice it has been found that use of cholecalciferol in rodenticides represents a significant hazard to other animals, such as dogs and cats. “Cholecalciferol produces hypercalcemia, which results in systemic calcification of soft tissue, leading to renal failure, cardiac abnormalities, hypertension, CNS depression, and GI upset. Signs generally develop within 18-36 hr of ingestion and can include depression, anorexia, polyuria, and polydipsia.”[1
What does vitamin D do for the body?
This essential nutrient is called a vitamin, but dietary vitamin D is actually a precursor hormone — the building block of a powerful steroid hormone in your body calledcalcitriol. It’s been known for many years that vitamin D is critical to the health of our bones and teeth, but deeper insight into D’s wider role in our health is quite new.
Vitamin D works in concert with other nutrients and hormones in your body to support healthy bone renewal — an ongoing process of mineralization and demineralization which, when awry, shows up as rickets in children andosteomalacia (“soft bones”) or osteoporosis (“porous bones”) in adults.
Researchers are discovering that D also promotes normal cell growth and differentiation throughout the body, working as a key factor in maintaining hormonal balance and a healthy immune system. It appears that calcitriol actually becomes part of the physical composition of cells, assisting in the buildup and breakdown of healthy tissue — in other words, regulating the processes that keep you well.
What’s more, evidence from studies tracking the prevalence of disease by geography and nationality shows clear links between vitamin D deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, certain cancers, and depression. Since most of these problems take many years to manifest, vitamin D deficiency has been overlooked by many providers for a very long time. I test all of my patients, and have been surprised to find that more than 85% come up with a vitamin D deficiency.
Your body can’t create vitamin D on its own. Instead, it’s designed to make it through sun exposure. In theory, you can make an ample supply of vitamin D with as little as a couple of hours per week in the sun — provided the UVB rays are strong enough. You can also ingest D through food, especially fatty fish like wild–harvested salmon. Plus, lots of foods are fortified nowadays, so vitamin D deficiency should be an easy problem to solve, right? But the truth is, we’re just not getting enough, and so many of us aren’t even close.
Healthy sunbathing — is it possible?
Our bodies are remarkably efficient. During the summer months, even as little as 15 minutes in the sun (without sunblock!) in the early morning and late afternoon is enough for most light-skinned individuals to create an ample supply of vitamin D. Skin with more pigment (melanin) may require up to 40 minutes.
But some say we are trading our longer lifespan for an increased risk of skin cancers, so don’t throw away your sunblock! It’s still important to protect your skin, particularly on your face and scalp, during the sun’s peak hours (11:00 AM – 2:00 PM) by using a lotion with SPF–15 (or higher), preferably PABA–free. Melanoma is a serious condition, and I’m not in favor of increasing your risk with unhealthy sun exposure.
This means taking care, not to be out in the sun unprotected for more than 15 minutes twice a day, in the early morning and late afternoon. If you begin to turn red before 15 minutes, cover up completely or go inside. It is never a healthy practice to burn your skin. It is also not safe to rely on tanning beds as a primary source of vitamin D, because their lamps are usually calibrated to favor UVA rays, not the UVB rays that stimulate vitamin D production. (See our page on tanning beds and vitamin D to learn more.)
What you can do to prevent vitamin D deficiency
- Allow yourself limited, unprotected sun exposure in the early morning and late afternoon (no more than 15 minutes for light-skinned individuals, 40 minutes for darker skin) — particularly between May and September if you live in anywhere higher than about 35–40° latitude. (See theWorld Atlas to check out your latitude!)
- ITS THE LONG BONES IN THE ARMS AND THE LEGS THAT DO MOST OF THE WORK CONVERTING SUNSHIONE INTIO VITAMIN D
- Eat a diet rich in whole foods. Nutrient-dense, fatty fish like mackerel and sardines are good sources of vitamin D. Egg yolks, fortified organic milk and other dairy products, and some organ meats (like liver) are also reasonably good natural sources of D. Because vitamin D is still somewhat of a mystery, we’re not sure which co-factors are important for its absorption, but we can surmise they are most fully present in wholesome food.
- Take a top-quality multivitamin every day to fill in any nutritional gaps, preferably one that includes fish oil. (We’ve designed our own multivitamin that we can offer our patients with confidence. Click here to read about our Essential Nutrients.)