Vitamin D deficiency a worry in India

In developed countries, vitamin D is added to foods through fortification. To get minimum required levels of vitamin D in the diet, a person needs to drink at least 10 glasses of vitamin D fortified milk every day. Ideally, a diet that includes dairy, fish and egg yolk coupled with adequate exposure to sunlight should prevent vitamin D deficiency.

According to current recommendations, to prevent vitamin D deficiency, one should spend 15 to 20 minutes in the sunshine every day, with 40 per cent of the skin surface exposed between 11 am and 3 pm. These radiations cannot penetrate glass, therefore, the body does not generate vitamin D while sitting in a car or indoors. People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20-30 times more exposure than fair-skinned people. Sunscreens, commonly advised for prevention of skin cancers, can seriously impair absorption of vitamin D. Even weak sunscreens, with a sun protection factor of 8, reduce the body's ability to generate vitamin D by

95 per cent. Obesity also impairs vitamin D utilisation in the body. Obese people need twice the amount of vitamin D as healthy people.

It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D from sunlight exposure as the body self-regulates its needs. Most experts agree that the minimum daily intake of vitamin D should be at least 800-1,000 IU per day to maintain a healthy concentration of 25 (OH) D in the blood. In India, there are no policies for fortification of vitamin D, getting enough of this vitamin poses a challenge. If adequate sunshine exposure is not possible, supplements must be taken strictly under medical supervision. Chronic vitamin D deficiency requires supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild bones and nervous system.

Long-term strategies to address this deficiency should include public education, national health policies for screening and prevention through food fortification, and treatment with vitamin D supplementation.

... contd.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.