Vitamin D is a part of the “Calcium-vitamin D-Parathyroid hormone” endocrine axis. It is crucial for calcium metabolism. Adequate calcium intake along with Vitamin D is necessary to maintain the peak bone mass achieved by an individual. Vitamin D adequacy during an early age helps in reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake are important risk factors for osteoporosis.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency, which is also prevalent in children between the ages of six months and five years, elderly people and those who aren’t exposed to adequate sunlight. Men between the ages of 30 and 60, adolescent girls and women between the ages of 15 and 30 are also likely to develop vitamin D deficiency.
If you are Vitamin D deficient, then you have an increased risk of developing Rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis depending on your age group. The most well-recognized function of active Vitamin D involves the regulation of calcium and phosphorus balance for bone mineralization and remodeling. Without adequate levels in the bloodstream, dietary calcium cannot be absorbed. In the long term, this leads to weakened and brittle bones that break easily. Approximately 40%-60% of total skeletal mass at maturity is accumulated during childhood and adolescence. Rickets results from inadequate mineralization of growing bone.
Can a perfectly normal individual be deficient?
Studies from India show that Vitamin D deficiency has a very high prevalence rate of up to 70-100%, even in otherwise healthy individuals of all age groups. All over India, vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent in pregnant women and lactating mothers. Relatively, fish are a rich source of vitamin D. The residents of Bengal eat more fish compared to the rest of the Indians. Individuals of all walks of life are equally deficient, be it doctors, sportsmen, or even soldiers who eat well, exercise and spend good amount of time in the sun. Undoubtedly, the situation od Vitamin D deficiency is very grim in India and has to be recognized as a major health problem.
Even excess of it can also be a big health problem. One must be careful not to over-enthusiastically over treat without actually monitoring Vitamin D levels. Excessive ingestion of this vitamin may lead to increased blood calcium levels, constipation, decreased appetite, lethargy, dehydration, failure to gain weight in children, increased urination, increased thirst, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, deposition of calcium in kidneys, and headache.
Vitamin D deficiency is a preventable and treatable condition. You need to be aware.