A pan-India study published in May 2020, including 4,624 subjects at 229 sites across 81 cities in India shows that 76% of the Indian population suffers from Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. The study also found that the prevalence of the deficiency is highest in Indians aged 18-30 years, and this trend resonated across north, south, west and east zones in India.
Dr. Sanjiv Goel, M.S., MCH(ORTHO), Guardian Hospital, Jalandhar and author of the study published in the International Journal of Research in Orthopaedics added, “Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency, although widely prevalent among the Indian population, is still not recognized as a problem. As Vitamin D is a critical micronutrient that plays an important role in muscle and bone health, as well as overall health, these findings underscore the need for greater awareness amongst clinicians and patients to enable the screening, diagnosis and treatment of this silent epidemic.”
Commenting on this latest study, Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott, said, “Hitherto, Vitamin D deficiency was thought to be a concern particularly in older persons,3 for whom it poses a risk to bone health. Yet as this study shows, there are high levels of deficiency among young people too. The deficiency is thus a public health risk for all, as it can cause rickets in children, increase risk of osteoporosis in adults and is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and even infectious diseases. Abbott is committed to raising awareness of the importance of Vitamin D, and providing innovations like advanced Vitamin D Nanotechnology formulations to help Indians achieve adequate Vitamin D levels, so they can live their life to their potential.”
Vitamin D can be produced entirely by the body with exposure to sunlight. However, despite the availability of plentiful sunshine in India, the deficiency remains rampant. Urbanization and modernization have resulted in less time spent outdoors, high levels of air pollution can hamper the transmission of UVB rays and dress customs in India remain conservative. Additionally, many Indians are vegetarian and most foods rich in Vitamin D are of animal origin.
Stressing the importance of the nutrient for public health, Dr. Protyush Chatterjee, Senior Consultant in Orthopaedics at AMRI, Salt Lake, Kolkata said, “This latest pan-India finding shows that sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits are taking a toll on our population’s Vitamin D levels. Moreover, people in Kolkata in these trying times are spending more time indoors than earlier, which may further compound the deficiency. Measures to get enough Vitamin D include sunlight exposure for 30 to 45 minutes around noon hours and a diet rich in Vitamin D sources such as cod liver oil, salmon fish, mackerel, sardines, tuna, egg yolk and mushrooms exposed to sunlight8. Those who cannot comply with these recommendations due to personal circumstances can benefit from ongoing supplementation. It is important for everyone to take action, including those who may be younger, so they can remain in good health for many years to come.”