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The immunity-boosting vitamin that most Indians lack

Physician, yoga exponent and vitamin-D evangelist Dr Renu Mahtani shares tips for good health and immunity in the time of COVID-19.

May 30, 2020 / 06:50 AM IST

Maya Lalchandani

Around the time that Dr Renu Mahtani worked in a hospital ICU, she developed psoriasis, an incurable skin disease. Badly affected and bleeding, she realised it was stress-related, as she had long working hours and two small children.

She started exploring breathing techniques in yoga and at once her condition improved. That started her experiments with various schools of yoga and she completely healed herself.

Consequently, Renu, who holds an MBBS, an MD in internal medicine and a fellowship in metabolic and nutritional medicine (USA), founded ParamYoga with fellow teachers to demystify yoga. Her Medical Yoga Therapy course assimilates her qualifications in medicine and yoga, and she has trained over 200 yoga and gym teachers so far.

A practising physician for the past 30 years, Renu is also a vitamin D evangelist. Her conviction came about due to her own personal experience. After menopause, she developed an auto-immune disease and her face became dark. Despite her yoga, she realised her body needed nutritional corrections.

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During her fellowship, she came across the work of a doctor in Brazil, Dr Cicero Coimbra, who was managing autoimmune diseases with higher than normal doses of vitamin D. Inspired, she tried a combination of supplements for herself. “Today, my skin is much better, my vitamin D levels are high, and I haven’t felt the need to use sunscreen for two years,” she affirms. We ask her more about the wonder vitamin.

Why do so many Indians have vitamin D deficiency?

It’s a concern not just in India, but globally. Though we are blessed with a tropical climate, urban India has ‘sun-phobia’ and we stay indoors for fear of getting dark or to avoid the heat. A large chunk of Indians are vegetarians, and vegetarian food does not have vitamin D either. Our ancestors got 90 percent of their vitamin D from sunlight. But now supplements are needed.

Renu Mahtani. Renu Mahtani.

How does vitamin D deficiency affect overall health?

Vitamin D is only just for the skin or bones, but many autoimmune diseases as well – from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type-1 diabetes and psoriasis, to hypothyroidism. I’m treating all these with vitamin D and am seeing excellent results, even reversals in the MRIs of multiple-sclerosis patients. Ask your doctor to try this with the right supplements – you will see remarkable results.

What are the right amounts?

Ninety percent of Indians are deficient in vitamin D. The doses that were recommended earlier were primarily to prevent rickets. I believe that a minimum level of 60 ng/mL gives you strong immunity.

Any tips for these times of COVID-19?

People at risk of influenza or COVID-19 should take vitamin D supplements for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25 (OH) D concentrations. The goal is to raise the body’s level to 40-60 ng/mL. For those who test COVID-positive or work on the front-lines, higher doses might be useful.

Photo: Pixabay. First published in eShe magazine
first published: May 29, 2020 05:04 pm

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