Vitamin D deficiency not uncommon in India

Vitamin D as a hormone influences many glands and tissues, including pancreas (insulin secretion), the parathyroid glands, pituitary gland, ovaries, testes, colon, placenta, uterus, heart, thymus, mammary tissue and brain (cerebellum).

Another role of this hormone is as an immunity enhancer. In a study, a third of the subjects suffering from tuberculosis were found to have Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation enhanced their recovery .

Studies have also found a relationship between Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of respiratory infections as well. High intake of Vitamin D by pregnant mothers reduces the risk of asthma by as much as 40 per cent in children (3-5 years old). Providing adequate vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy may lead to significant decrease in asthma incidence in children.

Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Higher levels of Vitamin D in blood help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost 40 per cent.

If adequate exposure to sunshine is not possible, supplements must be taken strictly under medical supervision.

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being, one should integrate physical, mental and spiritual health. According to her: "To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all."

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