Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions in India despite ample sunshine. Recent studies on the Vitamin D deficiency reveal that about 65-70% of Indians are deficient in Vitamin D and another 15% are insufficient and also warn that if it is not managed properly, there are high chances that it can lead to rickets, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and infections such as tuberculosis.
Vitamin D, an essential nutrient needed by the body to absorb calcium and for bone health, is synthesised in the skin on exposure to sunlight. It is a steroid hormone that influences virtually every cell in the body, which is why maintaining a healthy level is so important.
Dr. Michael Holick an eminent American Endocrinologist and global authority on Vitamin D therapy said, “Vitamin D deficiency has reached an alarming stage not only in Western countries but also Indian subcontinent which has enough sunshine. It is also observed that high level of Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.”
Dr.Holick was speaking on ‘Recent Advancements in Vitamin D Therapy Management’ at the international speaker program, organised by Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd in New Delhi. Over 250 Consultant Physicians, Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Orthopedics, Cardiologists and Endocrinologists attended the international speaker program organised at Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi on Sunday, July 17, 2016.
Maj Gen. (Retd) Dr. Raman K Marwaha, Eminent Endocrinologist, Former Additional Director & Head (INMAS) and President, Indian Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ISBMR), “We have undertaken two major studies involving Indian children in the age group of 11-15 years, which were published in Osteoporosis International and British Journal of Dermatology. It was found that despite exposure to sun for 30 minutes every day for 30 days during summer and winter, it did not achieve the level of Vitamin D, which is considered to be adequate for sound bone health. And that is the reason why I feel that it is important to supplement Vitamin D in Indian conditions during summer and specially in winter to achieve adequate levels of Vitamin D.”
In Delhi, more than 80% of the population has Vitamin D levels less than normal. Vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake are important risk factors for osteoporosis, low bone mass, muscle weakness and therefore increased risk of fracture. Vitamin D adequacy during adolescence helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
“Vitamin D deficiency is yet another epidemic in our population, with a reported incidence of over 80% in pregnant women and an equally significant number at menopause. Addition of Vitamin D as a supplement to women of all age groups is the recent trend in practice amongst the Obgyns”, said Dr.HemaDivakar, Past President-Federation of Obstetric &Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Ambassador for FIGO, the international organisation of Obgyns.
Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D< 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as ≥30 ng/mL.
Studies have shown that among the patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain, 93% of them were Vitamin D deficient. Low vitamin D levels are widely known to harm bones, leading them to become thin, brittle, soft or misshapen. But Vitamin D is equally important for heart, brain, immune function and much more. For example, there’s an important connection between insufficient vitamin D and insulin resistance and/or diabetes, both type 1 and type 2.
Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in both urban and rural settings, and across all socioeconomic and geographic strata. It is also observed that children, pregnant lady and elderly people are likely to get most affected because of Vitamin D deficiency.