Prelims cum Mains Science & Tech

Vitamin-D deficit hits women hard

The News

Vitamin-D deficiency is leading to increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes among Indian women, according to a study in British Medical Journal (BMJ).


The study:

  • 6% women in India are vitamin-D deficient, whereas almost 26% have been marked insufficient.
  • Only 5.5% of women in the country have the vitamin in sufficient amount.
  • High vitamin-D deficiency among women in north India, particularly those in the lower socio-economic strata.
  • Vitamin-D supplementation would prevent diabetes in many women.


Why vitamin D deficiency is more likely to be present in India?

  • Several studies in India have shown high prevalence of the deficiency and its association with obesity.
  • Despite most parts of the country get an abundance of sunlight throughout the year, close to 40 per cent of Indians are Vitamin D deficient.
  • Women in India are more likely to have the deficiency as many of them are confined to households and have clothing patterns that reduce exposure to sunlight.


Who has conducted this study?

  • The study has been conducted by researchers from AIIMS, Diabetes Foundation of India and National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation.


About Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is created in the body with sunlight exposure.



Lifestyle habits that cause Vitamin D deficiency

  • Indoor activities: From professionals and students to housewives, no one comes in contact with adequate sunlight, due to which vitamin D deficiency is rampant today.
  • Shunning the sun: Those who stay indoors or cover their body when outside are most likely to suffer from this deficiency
  • Indian skin tone: Melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D. Those with dark skin would probably need 20-30 times more exposure to sunlight, compared to fair-skinned people, in order to generate the same amount of vitamin D.
  • Increased use of sunscreen lotions: These lotions fight the sun and prevent vitamin D synthesis. Sunscreen use can potentially lead to vitamin D deficiency, particularly if you use high sun protection factor (SPF) creams (factor 15 or above).
  • Obesity: Being overweight also adds to the problem. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release in the body. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.


Vitamin D deficiency treatments

  • Get the right amount of sunlight
  • Consume foods rich in vitamin D and calcium. Include foods like salmon, sardines, eggs and meat, breakfast cereals, soy products, dairy products and low-fat spreads in your diet.
  • Overcome obesity – Work out, burn those fat cells that absorb the Vitamin and let your body regain the sunny effect.
  • Avoid using sunscreen lotions: It is best to leave one’s skin in its natural form. Any kind of blocks may be harmful for your skin as well.

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