Vitamin D deficiency silent epidemic

Why no one is aware and how this could prove to be the next big health issue in India

There is a silent epidemic growing in India and yet no one is talking about it. No, I am not talking about the next wave of the Novo Corona Virus, but something much simpler and very hard to detect. Its Vitamin D deficiency.

Let me first begin with an episode that happened in 2014. I visited a new gym with a new trainer. I am no stranger to workouts, and I had been leveraging trainers before in the various gyms that I had visited. But this was different. As my training started the first thing I remember was that there was intense pain in my muscles and joints. Despite pain killers, the pain would not go away. The trainer kept telling me that it was a matter of time and things would improve. She even brought in another trainer, who helped me with some stretching exercises and twisting. But when things got worse I had to consult my family physician. One look at me, he said, well my friend when was the last time you checked your Vitamin D levels? That started a quest for settling my Vitamin D levels which continues to this day.

In a previous article, I talked about some of the challenges of Vitamin D deficiency. Do read that article as well as it will give you some insights into more serious side effects of Vitamin D Deficiency.

Listen to Healthcare India Podcast : Episode 11 : Vitamin D

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin D is known since it is produced by exposure to sunlight light. It is an important element that the human body requires. Deficiency is a critical problem, Vitamin and mineral consumption is critical for a human body to work. In 2010, the venerable Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report based on a lengthy examination of data by a group of experts. To sum up, they estimated that a vitamin D level of 20 ng/mL or higher was adequate for good bone health, and subsequently, a level below 20 was considered a vitamin D deficiency.

Sun is our biggest and most abundant source of Vitamin D

Below are the charts I have kept for my Vitamin D Levels. As you can see I started with a deficiency around 11 and now have managed to keep myself above the 20 mark for the last 5 years.

Here are my levels in the table below. As you can see, from my experience with the trainer in September 2014 where my levels were at 11.8, I have tried to maintain a higher level. But in June 2017 again my levels fell to 15. Now, this is the problem as constant monitoring would be required to ensure that the levels are consistent.

Date   Levels(ng/dl)
May 1888.9
Aug 1855.9
Nov 201824.58
Oct 201937.2
Vitamin D levels 2014-2019

Key Symptoms of Vitamin Deficiency

Weakness and Pain: The weakness of bones and muscles is the first sign that there might be a problem. Weak bones are vitamin D features however they generally occur at an early age or older age. Other symptoms include muscle cramps, weakness, and nagging pain, especially after exercise or a walk.

Obesity: individuals who’re obese are more common in showing the signs of a lack of D vitamin. Now, this could be one of the reasons for the obesity epidemic in India.

Feeling Low: Difficult to explain but lack of sunlight is known to cause subclinical depression. This often leads to mood swings, lethargy among others

Other Symptoms: Some other signs are knock-kneed appearance, low blood calcium level, and high blood pressure level, and the reasons, why the vitamin d deficiency occurs, are given below.

Reasons for Deficiency

The numerous reasons why the vitamin d deficiency occurs are given below.

  1. A sedentary Lifestyle mostly spent indoors
  2. Less exposure to direct sunlight
  3. Extensive use of sunblock and sunscreen
  4. Lack of absorbing of D vitamin.
  5. Hereditary factors

The given are a number of the readily recognize able signs of vitamin D deficiency symptoms. So what do you do? In my opinion, these should be your next steps.

  1. Visit a doctor- Please do not self-medicate, please do visit a doctor, and set up a telemedicine consult, this is just to ensure that the symptoms you have are really in line with Vitamin D deficiency.
  2. Check your Vitamin D Levels regularly from a NABL certified Lab, again many labs have a facility where they can come to your house and collect the sample.
  3. Plan for at least 30 minutes of outdoor activity daily, especially in the morning- Walks, Jogs, or just stretching in the park is a good idea. Very important this is the best way out of this in the long term.
  4. Keep a record of your levels- This will help you strike the right balance
  5. Eat foods rich in Vitamin D- Almonds, Spinach, and Milk are some of the common foods that we find in India.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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