Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin can now be measured by human hair. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, the findings may pave way for improved diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common conditions around the world with over a billion people estimated to be affected currently. Lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes and cancer.
Scientists said that the traditional blood analysis captures the levels at a single time point, whereas hair, which grow at approximately one centimetre per month. This could give you a better picture of your vitamin D status over several months, capturing the large seasonal differences in the levels.
"The study presents the idea that vitamin D is being deposited continuously in the hair as it grows, more might be deposited at times when vitamin D concentration in the blood is high, and less when it's low," said lead author Lina Zgaga, Associate Professor at Trinity College Dublin.
"Therefore, a test based on the hair sample might be able to give doctors a measure of vitamin D status over time -- if hair is long enough, this even might be over a few years," Zgaga added.
The researchers pointed that the findings are still in preliminary stage and require further research to establish the exact relationship between vitamin D concentration in the blood and in hair. Future studies need to take stock of different factors that might affect vitamin D levels in hair; like hair colour, thickness and use of hair products.
Also Read: 4 Natural Ways To Make Your Hair Grow Thick
The discovery could also have other applications as hair (along with teeth) are some of the longest lasting surviving biological materials after death and thus it could be possible to assess the vitamin D status of historical populations - Elizabethans, Vikings, Celts, Romans, ancient Chinese, Egyptians, the researchers said.
Vitamin D-Rich Foods
Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient required to manage bone and teeth health. Exposure to sunlight is said to be the best source of vitamin D, but since a lot of us lead a sedentary lifestyle confined in four walls of our office and home, it is a tad difficult to get one's recommended daily dose of sunshine. Such people can always rely on natural sources of vitamin D present in select vegetables, fruits, poultry and dairy. Here are some of them.
- Orange Juice
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