Although India benefits from a sunny climate, 75% of the adult population has a deficient (< 50 nm/L) vitamin D status which is significantly above the global average of 38%, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.
Poor vitamin D status in India can be explained by high pollution levels, which prevent ultraviolet radiations from reaching the Earth’s surface, according to a study co-authored by DSM Nutritional Products.
Additionally, urbanization has changed the housing landscape resulting in over-crowded houses with limited daylight.
The typical middle class lifestyle now favors staying inside air-conditioned homes, rather than sitting outside in the sun.
The use of clothing to cover the face or body parts due to cultural or religious beliefs or for sun protection, also limits sun exposure.
Risks due to vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is composed of a group of fat-soluble compounds that play an essential role in the growth and maintenance of the skeletal system through the regulation of calcium.
Vitamin D deficiency is traditionally associated with inappropriate bone mineralization, leading to rickets in children and osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a silent disease due to the inability to diagnose until the first fracture. Moreover, vitamin D contributes to the improvement of muscular strength.
The European Commission has authorized an Article 14 health claim, submitted by DSM, stating that ‘vitamin D helps to lower the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness’.
Unlike other vitamins, of which sufficient levels can be consumed via the diet, sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D.
The publication summarizes the vitamin D status of healthy Indian individuals across all age groups.
It aims to understand the extent of vitamin D deficiency status in India through a meta-analysis.