Is Vitamin D deficiency India’s new pandemic?

The normal 25- hydroxy vitamin D level is 30ng/ml to 50ng/ml for healthy people. People generally face symptoms when the level drop down below 15ng/ml. Earlier, a Vitamin D deficiency is ordinarily understood to impact women, especially those who are pregnant or are menopausal, or older people. But doctors are now observing a much wider population, including men and 20- to 30-year-old, suffering from the deficiency. Even I have seen children with low levels of vitamin D.
At my clinic, at least 60% of patients comes with low level of vitamin D. patients comes with vitamin D level as low as 5ng/ml. Most of them complain about backache and pain in legs especially the calf muscles accompanied with fatigue. Other signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is mentioned here. The problem is widespread and on the increase, with potentially severe repercussions for overall health and fracture rates. Vitamin D not only benefits you in Osteoporosis but also in Diabetes and Heart Disease. Below we are mentioning the reason behind the skyrocketing of vitamin D deficiency.

Sun exposure

Sun is the most important source of Vitamin D. Skin produces the Vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight. During exposure to sunlight, ultraviolet radiation penetrates into the epidermis and changes provitamin D3 to previtamin D3. Previtamin D3 is then turned into vitamin D3.

Now a days, we don’t go out in sun due to many reasons such as hectic schedule, intolerance to sun. Aging, sunscreens, and melanin all diminish the capacity of the skin to produce previtamin D3. Even if we go out, we always apply sunscreen to avoid darkening of skin which again does not allow vitamin D formation and lead to vitamin D deficiency. In its most natural form, humans should receive the required daily dose of Vitamin D from exposure to the sun, that too, the morning sun, between 7 am and 1 pm. You need to sun yourself for at least half an hour with 40 per cent of your body exposed.

Brown skin of Indians

Indians has brown skin due to more melanin pigmentation which again makes production of Vitamin D difficult.  Melanin protects against skin damage from too much UVB exposure, so darker skins with more melanin allow less UVB to enter the skin. With less UVB getting through the skin, less vitamin D is produced each minute.

Dietary habits of Indians

  • Most Indians are vegetarians while most of the food items rich in vitamin D are of animal origin.Therefore, a dietary source of vitamin D for vegetarians is milk, provided milk has been fortified with vitamin D. As, most of the Indians drink milk comes from diary, milk is rarely fortified with vitamin D in India. The vitamin D content of unfortified milk is very low (2 IU/100 mL). Additionally, milk and milk products are unaffordable to the socioeconomically underprivileged.

  • Intake of caffeine from tea and coffee is very high in India. Most Indians consume milk as part of their tea or coffee. The proportion of milk is very low in these drinks. Thus calcium intake through these beverages become low.

  • In India, milk is boiled for several minutes before consumption. Before the same lot of milk is consumed in entirety, it is subjected to two-three rounds of boiling. In India most of the times, beverages like tea and coffee are boiled for several minutes to get the right flavor. This boiling may reduce the content of any vitamin D that there may have been left after boiling of the milk itself.

  • Indians depend upon cereals and legumes than vegetables, milk and other dairy products. This diet has high phytate content. Phytate is indigestible to humans. Phytate reduce intestinal absorption of iron and cacium.

  • When foods are fried, vitamin D in the food comes out into the cooking medium and is thermally degraded. Short-time pressure cooking is definitely advisable to retain at least some of the thermally more stable essential nutrients in cooked food, including vitamin D.

6 foods that are rich in Vitamin D

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