Almost 70% Women in North India Likely to Have Vitamin D Deficiency: Report

About 70 percent women in north India have vitamin D deficiency, making them prone to developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a study.


About 70 percent women in north India have vitamin D deficiency, making them prone to developing Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Only 5.5 percent of the women studied had “sufficient” levels of vitamin D, while 68.6 percent were “deficient,” and 26 percent showed “insufficient” levels.

The research, conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences along with Fortis C-Doc, Diabetes Foundation of India and National Diabetes Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation, studied the relationship between low vitamin D and high-blood glucose levels in Indian women who are in the pre-diabetic stage. It involved 797 women between the ages of 20 and 60 years.

“In India, there is a need to understand this as women have a propensity to be obese, develop metabolic syndrome, consequent hyperglycaemia and thereby be at the risk of diabetes. The pace at which women are moving from the pre-diabetic stage to the diabetic stage is alarming,” Anoop Misra, author of the study and chairman of Fortis-C-DOC Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, said in a statement. “If this could be prevented by prescribing a cost effective vitamin D supplement, it would be truly amazing,” he added.

Low vitamin D levels are shown to be related to higher blood sugar levels, since vitamin D may have a direct effect on insulin production from the pancreas.

While earlier studies have established the link between the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and abdominal obesity, as well as the prevalence of lower levels of vitamin D in diabetic patients as compared to non-diabetic individuals,the relationship between vitamin D and the development of pre-diabetes, with a special focus on women, has remained obscure and unexplored, Misra added.

The study found that women from lower socio-economic groups tend to be more deficient in vitamin D. Post-menopausal women suffering from low calcium deposits, besides low vitamin D levels, are also at a higher risk of bone damage than others, it said.

Women in India are more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency because many of them remain confined indoors and may not get exposed to sufficient sunlight, Misra pointed out.

About 88 percent of people living in Delhi have lower than normal vitamin D levels, according to an earlier report by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). Almost 85 percent of this deficiency is related to insufficient exposure or non-exposure to sunlight due to long hours spent in air-conditioned rooms, the study said, adding that a big concern is that most people are not even aware of Vitamin D deficiency and its consequences.

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