It is quite surprising that despite being a tropical country where sunlight reigns most time of the year, 70 per cent of India’s population is deficient in the sunlight vitamin, vitamin D. The sources of the vitamin are also not that meager and still an alarmingly high percentage of Indian population suffers from a lack of the vitamin. To understand what vitamin D deficiency can do to a person, we talked to Dr Ankita Mathur, who practises as a physiotherapist and clinical physiotherapist at IndoGulf Hospital and Diagnostics, Noida and is a member of Indian Association of Physiotherapist.
She started on a philosophical note because for a country born out of oral folklore tradition, the best means to explain exigencies is through an allegory. “Once, sitting on a chair from quite a long time, fixed as a log, I just remembered the movie ‘Wall E’ . A scene from the movie shows future time where human beings were shown very inactive, fatty, always sitting on a chair, and their X rays revealed very feeble skeletons. That thought took me to the whole process of bone formation,” she said.
There are important aspects that we must know about vitamin D, the vital ingredient for bone formation, such as follows.
Vitamin D deficiency means weaker bones
Ailments in the bone are a very common symptom and result of the deficiency of vitamin D. “In its active form, vitamin D helps in absorption of calcium into gut, hence making calcium available for bone mineralisation, modelling and remodelling and in various neuromuscular and cell formation processes,” said Dr Ankita.
It can also cause fatigue and muscular pain
One of the most common reasons of frequent joint pains, back pain, exhaustion and drowsiness is vitamin D deficiency. However, still most of the people do not register it. The deficiency needs to be taken seriously because in the long term, it can cause osteoporosis, obesity, cardiac disease, and even type 2 diabetes. The deficiency has many long term implications and the symptoms like fatigue and muscle pain should not be slighted off.
It can affect your children too
“A few days back, some males and females approached me complaining of generalised body pain. After assessment and some tests, we got to know they were deficient in vitamin D. Surprisingly, a few of them told me about their children having same deficiency,” said Dr Ankita. It is a fact. When a pregnant woman is vitamin D deficient, chances are high that it can get passed on to your child. In case you have had vitamin D deficiency in your pregnancy, your child must be fed milk that is fortified with vitamin D.
There are optimum sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D isn’t very hard to get. There are many sources in our diet that are abundant with the vitamin. “Why is that majority population getting this deficiency? It’s not that vitamin D sources are less. In fact, we could get it from many things provided by nature like fish, fish liver oil, egg yolk, sunlight etc. Also, it could be taken in form of medicinal supplement,” said the doctor.
Wrong lifestyle at fault?
The millennials are shying away too much from sunlight, thinks Dr Ankita. “I think we still are not aware of our wrong eating habits and lifestyles. Some researchers suggest that 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am to 3 pm at least twice a week to face, arms, legs and back without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis in body,” she tells. “Are we not able to take even half hour of sunlight just twice a week out of 172 hours (7*24 hrs)? We must act accordingly lest we make the movie’s scene a reality,” she warned.