A whopping 76% of women in the age group of 24 to 91 years were found have inadequate levels of vitamin D in a survey conducted by Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, highlighting an oft-neglected but major health concern among women in urban India.
The survey took into account the vitamin D tests of around 1500 women and girls in the city, and arrived at the conclusion that a majority of women are vitamin D deficient or have insufficient vitamin D levels in the body. Women with sufficient levels of the important vitamin were found to be in minority.
The results of the survey were announced by the hospital on International Women’s Day with an intent to highlight the health concern and raise awareness about the same.
“Our survey showed that around 1676 women (out of 2201) in the age bracket of 21-91 had inadequate vitamin D levels. Apart from this 241 out of 297 girls between 1 to 24 years of age were also found to have vitamin D levels below normal levels. While the sample size we analyzed was relatively small, yet it points to a prevalent pattern. If fact, doctors around the country has in recent years been talking about this problem, which is especially rampant among urban women,” says Dr Neeraj Bishnoi, Facility Director Paras Hospitals Gurgaon.
Vitamin D is not just critical for good bone and teeth health; it is also plays critical functions in regulating a series of mechanisms in the body. Vitamin D deficiency can be linked to several health problems including heart disease, depression and some cases even cancer.
“Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the gut and aids in maintaining adequate calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization in the bones. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones become thin and brittle. Together with calcium, vitamin D protects women from osteoporosis. The other roles of vitamin D in the body are modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation,” adds Dr Nupur Gupta, Senior Consultant Gynecology Paras Hospitals Gurgaon.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Increased body fat has the ability to absorb Vitamin D and keep it from being used within our body. Vitamin D is somewhat different than other vitamins because our body makes most of our Vitamin D on its own, rather than solely relying on food sources. It impacts not only our skeletal structure, but also our blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function, and ability to protect ourselves from cancer.
“If you are suffering from unexplained bone pain and muscle weakness, chances are that you have a vitamin D deficiency. Potential causes for this include reduced exposure to sun, widespread prevalence of sunscreen usage among urban women and traditional Indian dressing habits of wearing full body covered clothes. Vitamin D is made by the body when the skin is exposed directly to the sun. Covering the ski or wearing sunscreen prevents the skin’s interaction with UV radiation. While protection from the sun’s UV radiation is important to prevent skin cancer, we must educate women to strike a balance between skin protection and the body’s need for vitamin D,” explains Dr Nupur Gupta, Senior Consultant Gynecology Paras Hospitals Gurgaon.
Adopting simple habits in our daily lives will help in reducing the number of women with vitamin D deficiency. You only need about 10-15 minutes of sunshine about three times a week for your body to produce enough vitamin D.