70-90% of Indians are Vitamin D deficient & at risk of having diabetes and hypertension

70-90% of Indians are Vitamin D deficient & at risk of having diabetes and hypertension

A recent pan-India study authored by P.G. Talwalkar et. al. found that Vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The study observed that more than 84% of Type 2 diabetes patients were Vitamin D deficient, as were 82% of hypertension patients indicating that up to 70-90% of Indians are Vitamin D deficient.

The study was published in Indian Journal of Diabetes and Endocrinology.

The study also investigated co-occurence of deficiency with hypothyroidism and obesity or overweight condition. A majority (76%) of hypothyroid patients had low levels of vitamin D. Moreover, 82% of patients were obese or overweight, indicating that there may be a link between the deficiency, its comorbidities and body-weight.

These findings highlight the need for routine screening to ensure early diagnosis and effective management of Vitamin D deficiency to help reduce the burden and risks associated with non-communicable disease.”

The research confirms that Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to chronic disease.

Deficiency can fuel complications in patients with chronic disease. For example, prior population studies have found there is a 3-fold increased risk of ischemic stroke associated with low Vitamin D levels in patients with hypertension.

In cases of severe deficiency or high risk where immediate treatment is required, pharmacological supplementation is the most reliable way to treat the deficiency.

Dr. PG Talwalkar stated, “Typically, a dose of 60,000 IU administered weekly for 8 weeks is the norm, though such treatment needs to take factors such as age, development stage, pregnancy and seasonal variations into account.Once sufficiency is restored, sustaining it may require a combination of sunlight exposure for 30 to 45 minutes around noon hours, a diet rich in Vitamin D and calcium as well as ongoing supplementation, depending on patient compliance and circumstances. Dietary sources of Vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon fish, mackerel, sardines, tuna, egg yolk and mushrooms exposed to sunlight.”

Vitamin D is a critical micronutrient that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the body. These in turn are required to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Studies have found that the deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

Though Vitamin D can be synthesized endogenously by the body, it remains the most under-diagnosed and under-treated nutrient deficiency in the world, shows studies.

The causes of Vitamin D deficiency in a sun-drenched country like India are manifold including the high levels of air pollution that can hamper the transmission of UVB rays required to synthesize Vitamin D in the skin.

The consequences of deficiency can be significant. During childhood and adolescence, Vitamin D sufficiency along with adequate calcium intake is necessary to achieve peak bone mass in adulthood.

The findings underscore the need for routine vitamin D screening and appropriate management in Indian patients with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. This could also help reduce the burden and risks of non-communicable disease in the country.

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