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Sikhs Prone To Vitamin D Deficiency


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sikhs are Especially Prone to Vitamin D Deficiency Issues
May 25th, 2009 by Dr. Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Our faith in our Guru gives us so many riches and so much happiness. To make a riddle, in the face of all that the Guru gives us, what is it that most Sikhs do not have? The answer to this question is something that I see in my office all the time. Almost none of us have enough vitamin D to keep us at optimal health!

I first learned about the importance of vitamin D over five years ago. When I first measured my own blood level, I was shocked to see that I was extraordinarily low. This was in spite of all the many vitamins that I take to stay healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from exposure of our skin to the sun, and I realized that because I always wear full Bana, almost all of my skin is blocked from the sun. In addition I put sunblock on my face in order to not get skin cancer. Over the last five years I have normalized my own and many of my Sikh friends vitamin D levels by directly supplementing them.

My own health including my sense of well-being and the ability of my immune system to fight colds and flus has markedly improved. My energy and vitality also are significantly better. All of my Sikh friends, as well as all my patients have noticed big improvements in their health and well-being from taking the correct dose of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is now associated with 17 varieties of cancer, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (heart disease), as well as diabetes and most recently autism. The benefits for these diseases occur only when the vitamin D level in the blood tests significantly over 30 ng/ml and preferably over 40 ng/mg. Prior to the recent studies of the last 10 years it was believed that a vitamin D level around 20 ng/ml was sufficient.

Indeed this level is ONLY sufficient to prevent rickets. It will not benefit in preventing these other diseases whose relationship to vitamin D has been newly discovered in the last 10 years. To get benefit for protection against those diseases your level must be over 30 or preferably over 40 ng/ml.

Let me give you a specific example of the power of Vitamin D to protect us. In 2007, researchers Grant, Garland, and Gorham estimated that it would cost $1 billion each year to provide all adult Americans with 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. They also estimated that in the United States, the daily provision of 1,000 IU of vitamin D would reduce cancer mortality for females by 9 percent and by 7 percent for males. The researchers estimated that this would reduce the country’s annual cost of cancer treatment by USD16 billion to USD 25 billion. And that is just treatment costs. We should also add the emotional and psychological costs to patients, family and friends.

To my brothers and sisters in India who are reading this article: Vitamin D deficiency is extremely widespread in cities in India because of poor sunshine exposure and also because of skin pigmentation.

Because India is approximately 70% rural, and because there is so much sun, it has long been assumed that vitamin D deficiency in rural India would not be a problem, given the sun exposure.

Now an article has appeared in October 2008 that evaluated 200 families’ in a rural community east of Delhi in February. The highest level of vitamin D in all the subjects was 23 ng/ml. The average vitamin D level was 14.5 which is rickets causing level!

In the people with five hours of daily sunshine exposure, only 31% had vitamin D levels over 20 ng per milliliter which is again rickets level. Therefore 70% of people in this study in rural India had significant vitamin D deficiency. I encourage all of our brothers and sisters in India to be sure to have their vitamin D blood level checked and to take enough vitamin D every day to keep their blood levels normal.

Another recent medical study has found that in spite of all the sunshine, over 88% of adolescent girls in a rural Indian community were deficient in vitamin D. In addition 74% of the pregnant women in this same community had vitamin D deficiency. If the mothers are low in vitamin D than certainly their fetuses will also be low in vitamin D. In addition, nursing women with low vitamin D will not provide enough vitamin D to their newborns. Low vitamin D levels in young children are now being associated with an increased incidence of the triple childhood epidemics of asthma, juvenile diabetes, and autism.

Because of my excitement about the power of this vitamin, in May 2008 I decided to write a book for the layman about vitamin D. I am very happy to announce to the Sangat that this book is now released and available at

Through modern technology I am now also able to offer everybody an at- home vitamin D test kit. This way everyone can measure their own vitamin D level and then bring their levels up to normal or optimal.

In addition I have decided to create my own brand of vitamin D capsules so that I am able to provide guaranteed quality for everybody who wants to replace their vitamin D. I have partnered with a company which normally only makes products for physicians’ offices. We will also be able to make this pharmaceutical quality vitamin D available to the consumer at supermarket prices.

By way of simple suggestion, if you do not have a blood test, as an otherwise healthy adult, you can safely start on vitamin D 2000 IU per day and it will at least give you a moderate benefit of vitamin D protection. Of course optimally you should get a blood test with your physician or through a home test kit and find out exactly what your level is so that you may bring it up exactly to an optimal level.

I encourage all my brothers and sisters in the Sikh faith to get their blood tested as soon as possible for vitamin D and to learn to optimize their levels.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Vitamin D 'is mental health aid'

Source BBC NEWS | Health | Vitamin D 'is mental health aid'

Sunlight is one source of vitamin D

Vitamin D, found in fish and produced by sun exposure, can help stave off the mental decline that can affect people in old age, a study has suggested.
UK and US researchers looked at 2,000 people aged 65 and over.

They found that compared to those with the highest vitamin D levels, those with the lowest were more than twice as likely to have impaired understanding.

Alzheimer's charities said the research was interesting, but more work was needed to understand vitamin D's role.

It would be interesting if a low level of vitamin D was found to be a risk factor for cognitive problems as it is cheap and easy to remedy

Dr Susanne Sorensen
Alzheimer's Society

Vitamin D is important in maintaining bone health, in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and in helping the immune system.

The body makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun, or it can be obtained from foods such as oily fish, and those fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, cereals, and soya drinks.

But older people's skin is less able to absorb vitamin D from sunlight so they are more reliant on obtaining it from other sources.

Animal and lab studies have previously suggested that the vitamin can have a beneficial effect on cognitive function.

The team from the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan, assessed people's cognition, or comprehension skills.

People who have impaired cognitive function are more likely to develop dementia.

The researchers looked at people who had taken part in the Health Survey for England in 2000.
Just over 200 had significant cognitive impairment, assessed by looking at people's attention, orientation in time and space and memory.

The study found that as levels of vitamin D went down, levels of cognitive impairment went up.

The paper will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Geriatric Psychology and Neurology.
Dr Iain Lang from the Peninsula Medical School, who worked on the study, said: "For those of us who live in countries where there are dark winters without much sunlight, like the UK, getting enough vitamin D can be a real problem - particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight.

"One way to address this might be to provide older adults with vitamin D supplements.
"This has been proposed in the past as a way of improving bone health in older people, but our results suggest it might also have other benefits.

"We need to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation is a cost-effective and low-risk way of reducing older people's risks of developing cognitive impairment and dementia."

Risk factor?
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "Many foods that contain vitamin D, such as oily fish, eggs and breakfast cereals, are also good sources of vitamin B12, which, as previous studies have shown, can help protect the brain.

"Diet is known to influence dementia risk. The best way of reducing your risk of developing dementia is to maintain a balanced diet with regular exercise and frequent social interactions."
She added: "These findings may be significant, but much more research is needed."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, added: "One in three people over 65 will die with dementia so research into how we can reduce risk is to be encouraged.

"There was some previous evidence to suggest that people with dementia may have a lower level of vitamin D in their blood but it was not clear if this happened after the onset of disease.

"It would be interesting if a low level of vitamin D was found to be a risk factor for cognitive problems as it is cheap and easy to remedy.

"We look forward to seeing the published results of this new research to help us better understand the potential role of vitamin D in reducing risk."


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
Primitive peoples instinctively chose vitamin-D-rich foods including the intestines, organ meats,
skin and fat from certain land animals, as well as shellfish, oily fish and insects.
Many of these foods are unacceptable to the modern palate. Often we are advised to consume
the egg white while the D is in the yolk or we eat the flesh of the fish avoiding the D containing skin, organs and fat.

full article:


Jun 13, 2006

Someone list all the commonly available foods with Vit D for me please!! I have to go shopping later today, I may as well grab some stuff.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
International Units(IU)
per serving

Percent DV
Pure Cod liver oil, 1 Tablespoon (Note: most refined cod liver oils today
have the vitamin D removed! Check your label to be certain.)
Salmon, cooked, 3½ ounces
Mackerel, cooked, 3½ ounces
Tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 ounces
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1¾ ounces
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup
Margarine, fortified, 1 Tablespoon
Pudding, prepared from mix and made with vitamin D fortified milk, ½ cup
Ready-to-eat cereals fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, ¾ cup to 1 cup servings
(servings vary according to the brand)
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in egg yolk)
Liver, beef, cooked, 3½ ounces
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce

Dalsingh ji, you can see that fish, eggs and meat are listed. So if you are a vegetarian your choices a limited. Consider a supplement.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
I fear a fight between vege's and meaty's :p
Randip ji -- I never thought of that -- a fight -- with Vitamin D as the trigger. :eek:

Maybe this will simmer people down. The doctor who wrote the starter article is a member of 3HO -- in fact he is a very eminent physician and researcher in the US, but also a vegetarian as a follower of 3 HO. So he doesn't eat meat and that is why he is recommending supplements.

If there is a fight -- well then it is because people can resist it. Shame on them.


Apr 25, 2006
Just like the skin, the hair helps to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. It also helps to supply the pituitary gland (located in the head) with phosphorous. Phosphorous is an element which is used in meditation by the aforesaid gland. The hair on our body regulates body temperature and our eye lashes, nostril hairs and ear hairs help to keep out fine dust particles.
Hair, why cut it? - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.

If Sikhs are becoming Vitamin D defficient then either the above is BS or we just need to take our turbans off outside, every now and then. :D
synthesis of vitamin d in body (for chem buffs)

Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol, Calcitriol)

its important that we control intake...most fortified foods provide vitamin D supplement...8-15 minutes of sp{censored}/scattered exposure to sunlight, to about 1.5-2 square feet of skin, is usually enough (note sunscreens prevent synthesis of vitamin D, especially the ones with spf > 8)

over-supplementing vitamin D can have TOXIC EFFECTS!!!! BEWARE!
(vitamin-D is used as a rodenticide)


Apr 25, 2006
Sinister Ji, I didn't find anything on the net about hair aiding in any sort of Vitamin D synthesis, besides on Sikh websites.
Do you know anything about that?


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Folic acid Yes, and also pantothenic acid. Good for your hair. The B complex - important for tissues. Sinister wasn't saying that hair aids in Vitamin D synthesis. He was saying you can take your turban off a few minutes a day and get some sunlight on your scalp. The sun exposure helps in the synthesis of Vitamin D.
Sinister Ji, I didn't find anything on the net about hair aiding in any sort of Vitamin D synthesis, besides on Sikh websites.
Do you know anything about that?
Hi bhagatji

No, sorry I have never heard of hair fibers themselves directly or indirectly aiding in the synthesis of Vitamin D.

The Hair fibers themselves are actually considered a part of Integumentary System (the sort of lifeless end of the integumentary system) so I can understand where the confusion could arise. Hair follicles have a large amount of Vitamin D RECEPTORS (receptors are not involved in synthesis)…some studies were shown that administering drugs structured similar to vitamin D increased hair GROWTH in mice. (not the other way around)

Pre-Vitamin D3 is photochemically synthesized from 7-dehydrocholesterol (this is a derivative of cholesterol). 7-dehydrocholesterol is irradiated by light rays at around 250 nm (ultra-violet rays) and undergoes a 6 chain electrocyclic reaction to form pre-vitamin D3. This reaction takes place in two epidermal layers of the skin … stratum spinosum and basal (which is the area most of the 7-dehydrocholesterol is stored in the body)

Pre-vitamin D3 enters the blood stream and is then further processed in the liver and kidneys before it becomes physiologically active vitamin D.

Hair fibers don’t even enter the scenario even hair follicles are actually invaginations into the skin … so I would suspect that even h-follicular cells would not play a role in Vitamin D synthesis.

It's either confusion or lack of knowledge, on their part.
Aug 27, 2005
Baltimore Md USA
I think Narayanjot ji has clarified this and I thank Sinister for his additional input.
It is my understanding that hair is dead and does no more than provide cover and help regulate body temperature. I was recently diagnosed to be deficient in vitamins b and d for which I was given a shot of "b" and a script for folic acid. To make matters worse I was also deficient in iron and now take iron pills. The bottom line is I feel much better now.:roll:


Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
Narayanjot ji,

Guru Fateh.

Do people who belong to 3HO are Vegans or vegetarians? If they are vegans then they can not even take the Vitamin D supplement as suggested by the Doctor who belongs to 3HO. I found the following on the internet:
Source of cholecalciferol or vitamin D3
Cholecalciferol has an origin from animal products such as sheep wool. The sheep are not killed. The wool is sheared, and lanolin from the sheep wool is chemically altered in the lab to produce vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.

Q. I would like your thoughts on whether taking vitamin D3 cholecalciferol is okay for someone who is allergic to wool.
A. I have not heard of any problems arising from the ingestion of cholecalciferol in someone who is allergic to wool, but I cannot be 100 percent that it is completely safe since I am not familiar with the details of the manufacturing process of cholecalciferol from sheep wool.

Cholecalciferol questions
Q. I read on a web site that "Vegans usually obtain vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin or by taking fortified foods such as soya milk, margarine, breakfast cereals and vitamin supplements which are made from yeast or other fungi. Fortified vegan products contain D2 ( ergocalciferol ). Vegans are careful about their source of Vitamin D as D3 ( Cholecalciferol ) which is animal-derived." I'm vegan, does this mean I should not take a product with cholecalciferol but rather take ergocalciferol?
A. It appears to be true that Vitamin D in the form of cholecalciferol is derived from an animal source such as sheep wool. Therefore, this would make it fine for a vegetarian but not for a very strict vegan who believes that even a vitamin derived from wool is not acceptable. The sheep are not killed. The wool is sheared, and lanolin from the sheep wool is chemically altered in the lab to produce vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.

Q. I have seen research stating that vitamin D2 should not be used, only vitamin D3 cholecalciferol, as a milk additive and for personal health reasons.
A. The preliminary research states that cholecalciferol is preferable to ergocalciferol. However, we have not seen any long term human studies in a head to head comparison of the two forms to know for certain, but for the time being cholecalciferol is probably the better choice.
Cholecalciferol supplement research Vitamin D3 : by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Tejwant Singh

PS: Btw, as you know I from Vegas. Does that also make me a Vegan?:)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Tejwant ji

Thanks for an interesting read. And you know ----I wondered myself about this. What do vegans do about the vitamin D issue as the supplements have elements they typically avoid.

To tell the truth -- I don't know if 3HO are vegans, but I suspect that most of them are not. I could write to Gurmustukh Singh or Gurujot Singh Khalsas ji and they would tell me. The are definitely vegetarians.

Another wrinkle in all of this pertains to people who are seriously intolerant of soya products. I am one of them. Soy can cause extremely painful digestive complications.

There are some serious downsides to vegan diets. You really have to know what you are doing and you have to invest a lot of time in preparing and planning meals -- almost too much time given there are only 24 hours in a day. To me it is on the cusp of an unhealthy obsession.

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