SRL Diagnostics, India’s leading global diagnostic chain recently released a three-year long pan India data mining survey (2012 – 2014) on vitamin D, which revealed that Indian urban men alarmingly low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Vitamin D sufficiency is essential for maximising bone health. The vitamin enhances intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Deficiency of vitamin D is very prevalent in osteoporosis, a disease, which is associated with women in general after menopause, but also affects men.
Of the approximate 73 lakh samples of men screened during this period for the analysis by SRL Diagnostics, 80.63 per cent of the total samples had abnormal vitamin D levels. Out of the total samples tested, the ones in the age groups of 31—45 years and 46 —60 years were reported to have highest vitamin D levels. The analysis showed that prevalence of this abnormality was highest among men in the eastern zone of the country.
East Zone had highest percentage of abnormality with 86.6 per cent while northern and southern zone had 81.3 per cent and 85.6 per cent respectively. Among the four zones, western India showed the lowest percentage of abnormality with 69.8 per cent.
Dr Leena Chatterjee, director – Fortis SRL Labs & SRL Strategic Initiatives says, “This analysis shows that not only women, but men are also equally susceptible to vitamin D deficiency in India. Our in-house data analysis on vitamin D tests assessed nationwide abnormalities among men residing in various cities that represent diverse geographic origin, occupation, socio-economic status and food habits.”
“People who spend a lot of time sitting indoors are at higher risks of vitamin D deficiency than those who are more active. Also timely diagnosis of vitamin D abnormalities can help one to prevent from the fallout like osteopenia, osteoporosis and osteomalacia, increasing the risk of fracture. Unlike osteoporosis, which is a painless disease, osteomalacia causes aching bone pain that is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic pain syndrome or is simply dismissed as depression. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness, increasing the risk of falls and fractures, and should be aggressively treated with pharmacological doses of vitamin D. Therefore it is important to reach out and make people aware about the causes, symptoms, treatment and importance of testing for vitamin D adequacy,” Dr Chatterjee added.
There are no discernible symptoms in early stages of deteriorating bone health but once the bones are weakened symptoms such as back pain, muscle pain, stooped posture and even bone fractures occur.
Any abnormality in bone health can be effectively treated if it is detected before significant bone loss has occurred. For example, the diagnosis of osteoporosis includes a complete medical history, x-rays, bone mineral density test and blood tests. This approach can identify the chances of osteoporosis, determine risk for fractures and measure one’s response to its treatment.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), osteoporosis comes second to cardiovascular disease as a global health problem. This disease mainly affects the elderly population which is growing in number, thus putting a burden on the healthcare industry. As per the statistics, 1 out of 8 men and 1 out of 3 women in India are affected by osteoporosis. This makes India one of the largest countries with osteoporosis in the world. An adequate calcium intake and adequate amounts of vitamin D are important foundations for maintaining bone density, strength and to prevent osteoporosis.