Indians are deficient in vitamin D. And no, this cannot be solved by diet alone

Vitamin D2 Supplements | Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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IIndia receives excess sunshine, but a large percentage of Indians suffer from severe vitamin D deficiency. And that number is only increasing – it is a public health problem of epidemic proportions. What could be the possible reasons? Food shortagevsThere is an obvious cause there, and nutrition decision makers are seeing food fortification as a major intervention to tackle this public health problem. However, scientists to believe one combination Factors Defines Vitamin D From India deficiency, including increased time spent indoors, pollution, consumption of ultra-processed foods, darker complexion, etc.

Vitamin D, aka the sunshine vitamin, is an essential fat-soluble vitamin needed for optimal growth, development, metabolic functions, immune system, bone health, and mental health. Studies have shown that the level of vitamin D has a major impact on depression, mood swings, anxiety and the quality of sleep. But we are getting less vitamin D than we should.

Indians are deficient in vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is a public health problem.

Most experts define vitamin D deficiency as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level below 30 ng / ml. Severe vitamin D deficiency, or cut-off value of 25 (OH) D 12/10 ng / ml, considerably increases the risk of osteomalacia or nutritional rickets. A recent item in Nature reported 12 ng / ml 25 (OH) D levels in more than 20 percent from population in India, Tunisia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with around 490 million people suffering from vitamin D deficiency in India. Almost 76 percent of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, according to to study published in May 2020 which included 4,624 topics across 229 sites in 81 cities in India. The prevalence was more common in adults aged 18 to 30 years.

This increasing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency around the world could be the combined result of insufficient food and less exposure to the sun, which worsened during the Covid-induced confinements.

Read also : Can Lab Grown Shiitake Fight Vitamin D Deficiency? Indian scientists plan human trials to find out

Deficiency linked to depression and insufficient sleep

The role of vitamin D in maintaining good mental health is a relatively new area of ​​research. According to Lauren Harm and colleagues, the presence of several vitamin D receptors and metabolites in the brain shows his possible association with brain development and the onset of many neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. A full 2020 review included numerous studies which collectively concluded that clinical depression is associated with vitamin D deficiency. With 31,424 participants, a meta-analysis From korea reported that those who suffered from depression had low vitamin D levelss. A similar study by researchers McMaster University, Canada with 43,137 participants reported a comparable results. In 2010, a group of researchers called for more science studies to identify vitamin D deficiency early and treat with supplements, calling it “easy and profitable” Solution for people living with depression or other mental health problems. In addition, a meta-analysis multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found this moderate vitamin D supplementation may alleviate symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D deficiency affects mood and sleep because this play a crucial role in the regulation of melatonin and serotonin, two hormones responsible for regulating mood and sleep. In two consecutive studies in 2014 and 2015, Patrick and Ames explained the physiological mechanism underlying the effect of vitamin D insufficiency on mood, cognitive function and behavior. A model proposed by the authors suggests that a combination of genetic predisposition, omega 3 deficiency, and vitamin D deficiency can lead to reduced production of serotonin, also known as the “happiness hormone.” Low serotonin levels are linked to many mental health issues. The study concluded this an optimal intake of vitamin D and omega 3 is crucial to prevent these disorders.

Vitamin D greatly influences intestinal microbiota function and health by supporting beneficial bowel growth bacteria and protect the integrity of the intestinal mucosa. Since the intestine has a complex and close link in promoting mental well-being, keeping this healthy is crucial.

Read also : Do vitamin C and herbal remedies help with colds? Experts explain

In the sun and in the food

A comprehensive intervention is the need the hour. For most adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 IU. People aged 70 and over need 800 IU of vitamin D. Unfortunately, the RDA of vitamin D cannot be satisfied through diet alone. In addition, 70-90 percent people now spend most of their time indoorss. A comprehensive strategy to combat vitamin D deficiency includes sun exposure, modification of diet, supplementation if necessary, management of obesity and special attention to the darker skinned population. Melanin, a pigment in the skin, is responsible for reduced vitamin D production, so people with darker skin or more melanin need more sun exposure than people with lighter complexions. The amount of exposure however depends on the climate, the season and whether you are applying Solar cream or not. Midsummer days are the best time to get the most Vitamin D.

Not a lot of food to supply vitamin D. Some rich sources include oily fish, cod liver oil, animal fats such as lard or tallow, foods fortified with vitamin D such as orange juice, milk, and grains. It is important to manage vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency with supplements whenever needed under the supervision of a doctor.

Obesity and serum vitamin D levels are Also bound. If your BMI is 30 kg / m2 or more, work with a nutritionist to come up with a reasonable weight loss plan that will also address vitamin D deficiency, if applicable.

Dr Subhasree Ray is a PhD Student (Ketogenic Diet), Certified Diabetes Educator, and Clinical and Public Health Nutritionist. She tweets @DrSubhasree. Opinions are personal.

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