Vitamin D deficiency: A nutrient that is vital to health is vitamin D. While some foods do contain a tiny amount of vitamin D, sunshine is the main source of this vitamin for most people. In contrast to most other vitamins, vitamin D is distinctive. Vitamin D is metabolized by the body into the hormone calcitriol, which causes the bones to absorb calcium.
Vitamin D, also referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is crucial for human growth, development, metabolism, immunity, bone health, and mental health. Health conditions like prostate cancer, depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and rickets have all been linked to its deficiency.
In a study conducted by Tata 1mg Labs recently, with more than 2.2 lakh people across 27 cities tested and it was found that Nearly 76% of the Indian population suffers from vitamin D deficiency.
While 79% of men overall were found with lower-than-desirable levels of vitamin D in their bodies, for women, the figure was 75%. Vadodara (89%) and Surat (88%) were found to have the highest and Delhi-NCR the lowest (72%) incidence of vitamin D deficiency among all the cities from where the data was collected.
Interestingly, younger people were found to be much more affected by Vitamin D deficiency compared to the national average, an analysis of Tata 1mg data found. Its prevalence was highest in the age group of below 25 years (84%), followed by 25–40 years (81%) as shared in the Tata 1mg data results.
“Changing food habits and an indoor lifestyle with inadequate exposure to sunlight have led to a drastic increase in cases of vitamin D deficiency. The much higher prevalence in young adults can also be attributed to lower consumption of vitamin D-containing foods like fortified cereals and oily fish. However, seasonal variations in exposure to sunlight can also be a likely explanation, especially during winter. Unspaced and unplanned pregnancies in women with dietary deficits can lead to worsening of vitamin D status in both mother and child,” said Dr Rajeev Sharma, VP, Medical Affairs, Tata 1mg.
Natural sources of vitamin D include:
Can you take too much vitamin D?
Although the body cannot produce too much vitamin D from sun exposure, it can nonetheless be harmful when in excess. Calcium levels in the blood might rise when vitamin D intake is high. Health issues like mental confusion and heart problems may result from this. Taking external supplements often leads to having too much in the body.
Dr Prashant Nag, Clinical Head at Tata 1mg Labs, “Vitamin D levels should be checked regularly in cases of obesity, mal-absorption syndrome or softening of the bones (osteomalacia), or if the patient is getting treatment for TB. Vitamin D levels can also be checked along with regular full-body checkups, which are recommended to be done every six months or at least once a year. Infants and children under the age of five, pregnant and breastfeeding women, teenagers and young women, people over the age of 65, and those with limited sun exposure are the most vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency.”
A particular form of cholesterol found in human skin serves as a catalyst for vitamin D. It transforms into vitamin D when exposed to UV-B rays from the sun. Vitamin D-rich foods including egg yolks, oily fish, red meat, and fortified meals, as well as getting enough sun exposure, can help prevent its deficiency.