India is now the third most obese country in the world so it’s not surprising that most of our discussions on diet focus on weight loss. However, there is another equally serious issue that we need to address – vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies develop over months or even years and they often present few, if any, symptoms but they can do immense long-term damage. Let’s take a look at the most common deficiency in India.
The Most Common Vitamin Deficiency In India
“Over 80% of the Indian population is deficient in vitamin D, which makes it the most common vitamin deficiency in India”
The most common vitamin deficiency in India, is vitamin D deficiency. A recent large-scale study of almost 15 lakh people across the country showed that 81.28% of Indians are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin as our skin produces this vitamin when it is exposed to sunlight. India is famed for its beautiful tropical climate with clear skies and plenty of sunshine so why is vitamin D deficiency such a widespread problem?
Why Is Vitamin D Deficiency So Common In India?
“Our modern lifestyle is one of the most common causes of vitamin D deficiency as it restricts our exposure to sunlight”
Experts say that our lifestyle and habits are largely to blame for our vitamin D deficiency. We spend our days indoors working at a desk and only leave for home after sunset. Furthermore, most of our leisure activities on weekends are indoor activities like watching TV, shopping at a mall, or going for a movie.
Our skin uses the UVB (ultraviolet B) rays in sunlight to produce vitamin D. Glass blocks out UVB rays so that means that even if your office has plenty of natural light, your body will not be able to make the vitamin D you require.
Approximately 30 % of Indians are vegetarian and even those who are non-vegetarian do not consume meat as part of their regular diet. Since most food sources of vitamin D are non-vegetarian, we are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.
How To Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
“A 15-minute walk early in the morning in a sleeveless top and shorts will meet your daily vitamin D requirement”
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight but how much sunlight do you require to meet your vitamin D requirement? The amount of sunlight you require will depend on your skin tone as well as your clothing choices. Here’s the calculation for how much sunlight you require.
Studies show that people with a light skin tone produce at least 10,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D in 30 minutes. The daily requirement for vitamin D is just 600 IU, which means that a fair skinned individual needs to sunbathe for less than 2 mins to meet their vitamin D requirement. However, people with darker skin tones need 3-5 times longer exposure as the melanin in their skin reduces the amount of UVB rays they absorb. This means that a 15-minute walk early in the morning in a sleeveless top and shorts will meet your daily vitamin D requirement. You can also include yogurt, eggs, and fish in your diet as they are good sources of dietary vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to lower immunity levels, muscle weakness, fatigue, and depression. Apart from vitamin D deficiency, studies also show that over 20% of our population is deficient in Vitamin B12 while 15% is deficient in Vitamin B9. Sometimes, the signs of vitamin deficiencies are literally in your face, you just need to know what to look for! Of course, you might want to take a short cut and just pop a vitamin pill but multivitamins are more likely to harm rather than help you. Eat well, stay healthy!
August 28, 2018