Once believed to be naturally taken care of, a billion people across the globe are Vitamin D deficient today. Though Vitamin D can be synthesized endogenously i.e., produced entirely by the body with adequate exposure to sunlight, it remains the most under-diagnosed and under-treated nutrient deficiency in the world.
Talking about the reason of the deficiency, Dr Srirupa Das, medical director, Abbott shared, “The reason the cases are going up is because we are culturally a sun averse population, obsessed with fair skin. And this is the reason they want to avoid the sun at all costs. In addition, less physical activity, not taking enough Vitamin D in diet is adding to it.”
Vitamin D deficiency was said to lead to loss of bone density, pain and discomfort in joints and muscles, but a recent 2019 pan-India study authored by PG Talwalkar, Vaishali Deshmukh, M.C. Deepak and Dinesh Agrawal has found that Vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The study shows that 84.2% of Type 2 diabetes patients and 82.6% of hypertension patients were Vitamin D deficient. This important India-specific finding further confirms the body of research that links Vitamin D deficiency to chronic disease.
Talking to The Times of India, diabetologist Dr PG Talwalkar said, “There were some indicators that Vitamin D deficiency could be related to high blood pressure and diabetes. That’s when we carried out the study. When it comes to diabetes and hypertensive cases, the top priority is to prevent death and morbidity. Through this study, we realised that along with keeping other parameters in check, it is also important to manage Vitamin D levels.” More than 84% of Type 2 diabetes patients were Vitamin D deficient, as were 82% of hypertension patients.
Vitamin D is a critical micronutrient that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. They are required to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is also important for overall health. Deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.
Dr. PG Talwalkar added, “In case of deficiency, typically, a dose of 60,000 IU administered weekly for 8 weeks is the norm, though such treatment needs to take factors such as age, development stage, pregnancy and seasonal variations into account. Once sufficiency is restored, sustaining it may require a combination of sunlight exposure for 30 to 45 minutes around noon hours, a diet rich in Vitamin D and calcium as well as ongoing supplementation, depending on patient compliance and circumstances. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon fish, mackerel, sardines, tuna, egg yolk and mushrooms exposed to sunlight.”