Screening for Vit D Deficiency
Clinical Nutrition • • 1 minute to read • By Aditi Narsian, INFS Faculty
Author: Aditi Gurung, Assistant Faculty
Vit D, also known as "sunshine vitamin", is an essential nutrient with multiple functions in our body. One of the vital functions is to absorb calcium from our diet and maintain healthy bones.
According to the US Endocrine Society, less than 20ng/ml of serum 25-hydroxy Vitamin D in the blood is considered to be VDD. Deficiency of Vit D can lead to various bone-related disorders. E.g. osteoporosis which means b Vitamin D Deficiency ones are getting porous and have high chances of getting fractured. Approximately nine million fractures occur per year due to osteoporosis worldwide.
How common is Vit D?
In India, community-based studies among healthy individuals showed that 50%-94% of the people had VDD and hospital-based studies showed that 37%-99% of the patients had VDD. A high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was reported in the urban, rural, eastern, western, northern and southern parts across various age groups, including pregnant and lactating mothers. Even residents of Bengal were found to be deficient in Vit D despite having fish as their staple food. Moreover, healthy young soldiers with sufficient calcium intake, adequate sun exposure and regular exercise regimen and young sports women also had VDD. Thus, it is evident that VDD is prevalent countrywide.
What are the signs and symptoms of VDD?
The worst part about VDD is that it is asymptomatic, i.e., it doesn't have any signs and symptoms. So people get diagnosed during a routine blood check-up or until the condition gets very severe, leading to severe complications like a pathological fracture.
How do I prevent VDD?
Some ways to prevent the deficiency are getting exposed to sunlight (preferably 11 am to 3 pm), and eating Vit D-rich foods like salmons, sardines, eggs, beef and Vit D supplements. Another way is by doing the Vit D deficiency screening test to know your baseline levels.
Who should do the VDD screening? Who are at risk?
- The elderly people
- People with dark skin tone
- People who do not get proper exposure to sunlight.
- Sunscreen users
- People who take medicines for convulsions, acidity and high cholesterol
- Women who have attained their menopause
- Pregnant and lactating mothers
- Strict vegetarians and vegans
- Obese individuals
- People living with chronic kidney disease or chronic liver disease
VDD is a preventable condition, yet the majority of the people are suffering from it primarily due to a lack of awareness and secondarily to their poor lifestyle. It doesn't show any signs and symptoms. Complications would have already set in by the time a person gets diagnosed. Therefore, people at risk must get their Vit D levels tests so that if they have a deficiency, it can be managed on time.
- Holick, M.F., 2007. Vitamin D deficiency. New England journal of medicine, 357 (3), pp.266-281.
- Gupta, A., 2014. Vitamin D deficiency in India: prevalence, causalities and interventions. Nutrients, 6 (2), pp.729-775.
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