Vitamin D deficiency reaching epidemic proportions in India – Dr Michael Holick

Vitamin D deficiency reaching epidemic proportions in India – Dr Michael Holick

  • With 80% prevalance, major cause behind diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and cancer

Bengaluru: Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions in India despite ample sunshine. Recent studies on the Vitamin D deficiency reveal that about 65-70% of Indians are deficient in Vitamin D and another 15% are insufficient and also warn that if it is not managed properly, there are high chances that it can lead to rickets, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and infections such as tuberculosis.


Vitamin D, an essential nutrient needed by the body to absorb calcium and for bone health, is synthesised in the skin on exposure to sunlight. It is a steroid hormone that influences virtually every cell in the body, which is why maintaining a healthy level is so important.

Dr. Michael Holick an eminent American Endocrinologist and global authority on Vitamin D therapy said, “Vitamin D deficiency has reached an alarming stage not only in Western countries but also Indian subcontinent which has enough sunshine. It is also observed that high level of Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.”

Dr. Holick was speaking on ‘Recent Advancements in Vitamin D Therapy Management’ at the international speaker program, organised by Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd in Bengaluru. Over 250 Consultant Physicians, Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Orthopedics, Cardiologists and Endocrinologists attended the international speaker program organised at Hotel Lalit, Bengaluru on Saturday, July 16, 2016.

“Vitamin D deficiency is yet another epidemic in our population, with a reported incidence of over 80% in pregnant women and an equally significant number at menopause. Addition of Vitamin D as a supplement to women of all age groups is the recent trend in practice amongst the Obgyns”, said Dr. Hema Divakar, Past President-Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Ambassador for FIGO, the international organisation of Obgyns.

“In Karnataka, more than 80% of the population has Vitamin D levels less than normal. Vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake are important risk factors for osteoporosis, low bone mass, muscle weakness and therefore increased risk of fracture. Vitamin D adequacy during adolescence helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life” according to Dr. Naresh Shetty, leading Orthopaedic Specialist and President of M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital.

“Our studies (published in Endocrine Practice) have shown that maintaining Vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml along with adequate calcium improves the pancreatic β cell function and reduces blood sugar levels”, says Prof. Dr. C.V. Hari Narayan, Director, Institute of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Thyroid and Osteoporosis Disorders, Sakra World Hospitals, Bangalore.

Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as ≥30 ng/mL.

Studies have shown that among the patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain, 93% of them were Vitamin D deficient. Low vitamin D levels are widely known to harm bones, leading them to become thin, brittle, soft or misshapen. But Vitamin D is equally important for heart, brain, immune function and much more. For example, there’s an important connection between insufficient vitamin D and insulin resistance and/or diabetes, both type 1 and type 2.

Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in both urban and rural settings, and across all socioeconomic and geographic strata. It is also observed that children, pregnant lady and elderly people are likely to get most affected because of Vitamin D deficiency.

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