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Vitamin D Deficiency in India: Prevalence, Causalities and Interventions

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  • Rockwell Medical

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Vitamin D deficiency prevails in epidemic proportions all over the Indian subcontinent, with a prevalence of 70%-100% in the general population. In India, widely consumed food items such as dairy products are rarely fortified with vitamin D. Indian socioreligious and cultural practices do not facilitate adequate sun exposure, thereby negating potential benefits of plentiful sunshine. Consequently, subclinical vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in both urban and rural settings, and across all socioeconomic and geographic strata. Vitamin D deficiency is likely to play an important role in the very high prevalence of rickets, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and infections such as tuberculosis in India. Fortification of staple foods with vitamin D is the most viable population based strategy to achieve vitamin D sufficiency. Unfortunately, even in advanced countries like USA and Canada, food fortification strategies with vitamin D have been only partially effective and have largely failed to attain vitamin D sufficiency. This article reviews the status of vitamin D nutrition in the Indian subcontinent and also the underlying causes for this epidemic. Implementation of population based educational and interventional strategies to combat this scourge require recognition of vitamin D deficiency as a public health problem by the governing bodies so that healthcare funds can be allocated appropriately.
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Nutrients 2014, 6, 729-775; doi:10.3390/nu6020729
nutrients
ISSN 2072-6643
www.mdpi.com/journal/nutrients
Special Report
Vitamin D Deficiency in India: Prevalence, Causalities
and Interventions
Ritu G
1
and Ajay Gupta
1,2,
*
1
Charak Foundation, P.O. Box 3547, Cerritos, CA 90703, USA
2
Rockwell Medical Inc., 30142 S. Wixom Road, Wixom, MI 48393, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: agupta@rockwellmed.com;
Tel.: +1-562-809-8899; Fax: +1-702-974-1001.
Received: 16 November 2013; in revised form: 28 January 2014 / Accepted: 28 January 2014 /
Published: 21 February 2014
Abstract: Vitamin D deficiency prevails in epidemic proportions all over the Indian
subcontinent, with a prevalence of 70%–100% in the general population. In India, widely
consumed food items such as dairy products are rarely fortified with vitamin D. Indian
socioreligious and cultural practices do not facilitate adequate sun exposure, thereby
negating potential benefits of plentiful sunshine. Consequently, subclinical vitamin D
deficiency is highly prevalent in both urban and rural settings, and across all
socioeconomic and geographic strata. Vitamin D deficiency is likely to play an important
role in the very high prevalence of rickets, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes,
cancer and infections such as tuberculosis in India. Fortification of staple foods with
vitamin D is the most viable population based strategy to achieve vitamin D sufficiency.
Unfortunately, even in advanced countries like USA and Canada, food fortification
strategies with vitamin D have been only partially effective and have largely failed to attain
vitamin D sufficiency. This article reviews the status of vitamin D nutrition in the Indian
subcontinent and also the underlying causes for this epidemic. Implementation of
population based educational and interventional strategies to combat this scourge require
recognition of vitamin D deficiency as a public health problem by the governing bodies so
that healthcare funds can be allocated appropriately.
Keywords: vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; India; Indian
subcontinent; healthy individuals; fortification strategies; supplementation; sun exposure;
osteoporosis; fractures
OPEN ACCESS
Nutrients 2014, 6 730
1. Introduction
Vitamin D deficiency is pandemic, yet it is the most under-diagnosed and under-treated nutritional
deficiency in the world [1–3]. Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in individuals irrespective of their
age, gender, race and geography. Vitamin D is photosynthesized in the skin on exposure to UVB rays.
Sun exposure alone ought to suffice for vitamin D sufficiency. However, vitamin D deficiency is
widely prevalent despite plentiful sunshine even in tropical countries like India.
Vitamin D deficiency has a bearing not only on skeletal but also on extraskeletal diseases. Owing
to its multifarious implications on health, the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in India is likely
to significantly contribute to the enormous burden on the healthcare system of India. Cultural and
social taboos often dictate lifestyle patterns such as clothing—that may limit sun exposure and
vegetarianism—which certainly limits vitamin D rich dietary options. Most Indians are vegetarians.
The socioeconomically backward people constitute a large percentage of the population in India. The
underprivileged generally suffer from overall poor nutrition. Vitamin D rich dietary sources are limited
and unaffordable to most Indians. Vitamin D supplements are available, but most Indians are not
aware that they need additional vitamin D. Additionally, the cost of these supplements is essentially
prohibitive to the majority. Fortification of staple foods with vitamin D may prove to be a more viable
solution towards attaining vitamin D sufficiency in India.
There are scores of research papers in the literature reporting poor vitamin D status from all over
India and some from other countries of the Indian subcontinent too. These research papers have been
included in this review. Many of these studies measured serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in
ostensibly healthy subjects. Biochemical evidences of suboptimal bone health are elevated alkaline
phosphatase (ALP) and elevated PTH levels (secondary hyperparathyroidism or SHPT). These were
often reported in research papers, especially with respect to their correlation with vitamin D status.
However, the most accurate and convincing measure of bone mineral density (BMD) is DEXA (Dual
Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). Research articles reporting BMD, as measured by DEXA, in the
context of vitamin D status of ostensibly healthy individuals, are few. BMD data, as they correlated
with the vitamin D status in ostensibly healthy Indians is compiled. A few articles also reported results
of interventions studies such as vitamin D supplementation and vitamin D fortified foods.
The aim of the paper is to impress upon the practicing physicians in India about the gravity of the
vitamin D deficiency problem throughout India, so that they may take necessary caution and care in
the diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, this article may also serve to make
the case to the Health ministry, and the Food and Nutrition Board in India for population based
strategy of fortification of staple foods with vitamin D. This paper provides a comprehensive picture of
the vitamin D status of ostensibly healthy Indians, countrywide. The most reliable marker of vitamin D
status is the serum concentration of 25(OH)D. In the publications, investigators reported their data on
25(OH)D levels either as nM (nanomoles per liter) or ng/mL. To simplify information and for the ease
of comparison, in this review all the data on 25(OH)D levels are presented in a single concentration
unit for serum 25(OH)D levels—ng/mL. Most investigators have used different cut-off levels to define
vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency and sufficiency levels. While some may have done so due to
preference perhaps, other investigators defined their own cut-off levels as determined by the linear
regression between 25(OH)D levels and PTH levels. Therefore, to further facilitate comparison, in this
Nutrients 2014, 6 731
review vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and
sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. The data compiled here are also stratified by geographic locale of the study
subjects, to press home the fact that vitamin D deficiency is widespread throughout the nation,
irrespective of diverse dietary and social practices. For instance, despite fish being a staple diet in
Bengal (eastern India) vitamin D nutrition is no better than in other regions. Geographical stratification
of data also indicates regions of the country from where more data is needed. The effectiveness or
failure of vitamin D supplementation and food fortification in restoring vitamin D levels and bone
health have been reviewed, while making the case that vitamin D deficiency needs to be recognized as
a public health problem. This review also discusses the need and feasibility of fortification of staple
foods with vitamin D in India. Steps to be taken by the policymakers in India are also mentioned.
Data, when available, from other countries of the Indian subcontinent are also compiled and presented
for comparison.
2. Vitamin D Metabolism
Vitamin D can be synthesized in sufficient amounts by most vertebrates on adequate exposure of
the skin to sunlight (UVB rays). It is critical that most vertebrates obtain a sufficient amount of vitamin
D either from their diet or from adequate exposure of the skin to sunlight. The term “vitamin D” refers
to compounds vitamin D
3
(cholecalciferol) or vitamin D
2
(ergocalciferol). Vitamin D
3
is produced in
the skin on exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D
3
is derived from 7-dehydrocholesterol by ultraviolet
irradiation of the skin. Vitamin D
3
is also found in animal food sources e.g., fatty fish (e.g., salmon,
mackerel and tuna) cod liver oil, milk, etc. Vitamin D
2
is found in vegetal sources like sun-exposed
yeast and mushrooms. Notably, most dietary sources are not sufficiently rich in their vitamin D content.
Vitamin D (both forms D
3
or D
2
) is a prohormone which requires two hydroxylations to finally
attain its biologically active form—1,25(OH)
2
D. The first hydroxylation occurs in the liver, at position
C25 to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D, also known as 25(OH)D or calcidiol. 25(OH)D is the major
circulating form of vitamin D. The second hydroxylation occurs at position C1α to form 1,25(OH)
2
D,
also known as calcitriol. 1,25(OH)
2
D is produced primarily but not exclusively in the kidneys.
1,25(OH)
2
D is released in blood, where it binds to vitamin D binding protein (DBP) and reaches its
target tissues to exert its endocrine functions through the vitamin D receptor (VDR). 1,25(OH)
2
D is
also produced in several extrarenal tissues for its paracrine and autocrine functions. Most cells in the
body have VDR. Many cell types can also produce 1,25(OH)
2
D. 1,25(OH)
2
D is capable of regulating a
wide variety of genes that have important functions in regulating cell growth and differentiation.
3. Vitamin D and Skeletal Health
Rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis are widely prevalent all over the world. The most well
recognized function of 1,25(OH)
2
D involves regulation of calcium and phosphorus balance for bone
mineralization and remodeling. Without adequate levels of 1,25(OH)
2
D in the bloodstream, dietary
calcium cannot be absorbed. Low calcium levels lead to an increase in serum PTH concentration,
which leads to increased tubular reclamation of calcium in kidneys and resorption from the skeleton at
the cost of lowering bone density. 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
Nutrients 2014, 6 732
and adolescence. Rickets results from inadequate mineralization of growing bone. Thus it is a
childhood disease and it is manifested as bone deformities, bone pain and weakness. Biochemical
abnormalities consistently include hypophosphatemia, elevated alkaline phophatase levels and serum
25(OH)D levels are usually below 5 ng/mL. Chronic vitamin D deficiency in adults results in osteomalacia,
osteoporosis, muscle weakness and increased risk of falls [4–11]. Epidemiological support for skeketal
benefits of vitamin D is well known [5,6,12–14].
4. Vitamin D: Extraskeletal Effects
Biochemical studies have implicated vitamin D deficiency in many chronic diseases including,
but not limited to, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and
cancer. Numerous epidemiological publications support the extraskeletal benefits of vitamin D and
they cannot be ignored even though majority of these are association studies or small randomized
controlled trials. Nevertheless, stronger evidence is required with the aid of more robust and reliable
statistical methods such as randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These RCTs should be well-designed,
well-executed and conducted worldwide to generate dependable and incontrovertible data, in order to
assess the benefits of vitamin D supplementation not only as a preventive measure but also as adjuvant
therapies [12,15,16].
4.1. Immunity
As early as in the 19th century, cod liver oil (a rich source of vitamin D) was used for treating
tuberculosis (TB). Skin exposure to sunlight was an effective therapy for treating Mycobacterium
infections of the skin. In 1903, Finsen received the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that Lupus vulgaris,
the epidermal form of TB, could be cured using light from an electric arc lamp. In early 1900s,
growing awareness of benefits of sun exposure pertaining treatment of infectious diseases led to the
development of sanatoriums in “sun-rich areas”. These sanatoriums enabled regimented sun exposure,
diet and exercise. These sanatoriums primarily hosted TB patients [17]. Recent studies have linked
vitamin D deficiency with increased risk of developing TB [18,19], otitis media [20], upper respiratory
tract infections [21] and influenza [22].
4.2. Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including heart failure and coronary artery disease are a major
cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is accumulating epidemiological evidence from
observational studies suggesting that CVDs are associated with vitamin D deficiency [23,24]. Increased
risk of hypertension was associated with living at higher latitudes [25]. 25(OH)D level
< 21 ng/mL was associated with increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high triglyceride
levels—all associated with increased cardiovascular mortality [26]. Various studies have reported
reduced 25(OH)D concentrations in patients with previous and prevalent cardiovascular or cerebrovascular
diseases [15,27].
Nutrients 2014, 6 733
4.3. Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is caused by autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β cells, which eventually
leads to insulin-dependent diabetes. Higher rates of incidence of T1D were observed at higher latitudes
worldwide [28,29]. Epidemiological association of vitamin D intake and reduced risk of T1D was also
seen [30]. A meta-analysis of observational studies showed a 30% reduction in risk of T1D in children
receiving vitamin D supplements [31].
4.4. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is marked by insulin resistance (IR). In IR insulin is adequately or
overproduced by pancreatic β cells, but is ineffectively utilized by the target cells of adipose, hepatic
and skeletal muscles tissues. As a response to hyperglycemia, β cells further increase insulin
production leading to hyperinsulinemia, which is often indicative of a pre-(T2D) stage. Hyperinsulinemia
is associated with hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia, and glucose intolerance [32]. These conditions
are collectively known as “metabolic syndrome” [33]. A meta-analysis of observational studies showed
inverse relation of 25(OH)D levels and calcium status with insulin resistance and hyperglycemia. In this
meta-analysis, supplementation with both the nutrients combined showed benefit in optimizing glucose
levels [34].
4.5. Cancer
Adults living at higher latitudes are more likely to develop and die of colorectal cancer [35,36], prostate
cancer [37], ovarian cancer [38], breast cancer [39], lung cancer [40] and esophageal cancer [41].
Retrospective and prospective epidemiologic studies showed that when 25(OH)D levels were <20 ng/mL
there was a 30%–50% increased risk of developing and dying of colorectal, prostate, breast, pancreatic,
and esophageal cancer [36,39,42–45].
5. Serum 25(OH)D Levels as Indicative of Vitamin D Deficiency, Insufficiency or Sufficiency
Maintenance of adequate levels of serum 25(OH)D is essential to sustain the claimed pleiotropic
effects, whether skeletal (classical) or extra-skeletal (non-classical). The threshold levels of serum
25(OH)D required to optimize its effects may not be the same in the various target organs. Based on
classical skeletal effects, vitamin D deficiency is defined as serum levels of 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL
(50 nmol/L) with consequent and consistent elevation of PTH and reduction in intestinal calcium
absorption. Vitamin D insufficiency is defined as serum 25(OH)D levels in the range of 20–29 ng/mL.
At serum 25(OH)D levels of 30 ng/mL intestinal calcium absorption reaches its peak, and PTH levels
continue to fall until this level of 25(OH)D is attained. Thus, vitamin D sufficiency is defined as serum
levels of 25(OH)D 30–32 ng/mL. A desirable and safe range of serum 25(OH)D levels would be
30–100 ng/mL. This range would be sufficient for most known effects of vitamin D and also significantly
lower to obviate concerns pertaining vitamin D toxicity.
Nutrients 2014, 6 734
6. Vitamin D Supplements and Efficacy Concerns
Commercially, vitamin D
2
is manufactured by ultraviolet irradiation of ergosterol from yeast.
Vitamin D
3
is produced by the ultraviolet irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol from lanolin. Both forms
of vitamin D are available as vitamin D supplements. Several other forms of vitamin D supplements
are also available. 1,25(OH)
2
D is indicated specifically for patients with renal diseases and 25(OH)D is
useful when hepatic hydroxylation of vitamin D is impaired.
Whether D
2
or D
3
, is more efficacious in raising and sustaining serum 25(OH)D levels, remains
controversial. Several studies have proved equivalence between the two forms [46–49]. However,
other studies reported that D
3
is more effective than D
2
in achieving and maintaining higher serum
25(OH)D levels [50–53]. Nevertheless, on a long term basis either form may be used, bearing in mind
the long half-life (2–3 weeks) of 25(OH)D in circulation.
7. Testing Vitamin D Status
Plasma 25(OH)D or calcidiol (a summation of D
3
and D
2
forms) is the most reliable marker of
vitamin D status. Immunoassays such as radioimmunoassay (RIA), enzyme linked immunosorbant
assay (ELISA), chemiluminescence immunoassay and protein binding assays are used in routine
testing of 25(OH)D in clinical laboratories. LCTMS (liquid chromatography tandem mass
spectrometry) is the widely accepted reference method for 25(OH)D measurement. However, LCTMS
is tedious, expensive and time consuming and therefore seldom used commercially.
Since vitamin D undernutrition is largely silent and subclincal, the indication for testing remains
controversial. At present 25(OH)D test is the “most ordered test” in the USA. A similar trend has just
begun in the upper socioeconomic stratum in India too. This clearly shows increasing awareness
pertaining widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Indian clinicians. A 25(OH)D test
using antibody based technologies in India costs an individual approximately INR 1500, which is
unaffordable for most Indians. Surely, vitamin D status needs to be improved in most individuals in
India and not just the privileged or a select few. However, testing every individual’s vitamin D levels,
in a population with such a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is not economically and
practically feasible. Furthermore, whether subclinical vitamin D deficiency in otherwise healthy
individuals should be treated or not, and to what target level of serum 25(OH)D remains controversial.
It will be more cost-effective to implement aggressive nationwide vitamin D supplementation and food
fortification programs for the benefit of all ostensibly healthy individuals.
8. Vitamin D Status of Ostensibly Healthy Indians
Countrywide studies (Table 1) have reported vitamin D deficiency in as high as 70%–100% of
ostensibly healthy individuals. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was reported from northern to
southern and western to eastern India, in ostensibly healthy children, adolescents, young adults and
those 50 years old. All over India, vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent in pregnant women and
lactating mothers. Vitamin D status of these mothers correlated well with their neonates and their
exclusively breastfed infants. Subjects from rural and urban areas presented a similar picture.
Relatively, fish are a rich source of vitamin D. The residents of Bengal (eastern India) eat more fish
Nutrients 2014, 6 735
compared to the rest of the Indians. Surprisingly, their vitamin D status appears to be just as poor as in
the rest of the country [54]. Similarly, even healthy young soldiers with sufficient intake of calcium,
adequate sun exposure and regular exercise regimen were found to be vitamin D deficient [55,56],
as were young sportswomen [57]. Among resident doctors from Mumbai (western India) [58] and also
doctors from eastern India [54], most were vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency was also
observed in most of 2119 healthcare professionals studied from all over India [59]. Evidently,
countrywide prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is undeniable.
9. Correlation of Vitamin D Status with Bone Health of Ostensibly Healthy Adolescents and
Adults in India
Among otherwise healthy adolescents and adults studied, along with low serum 25(OH)D levels, a
significant number of subjects also revealed other biochemical and clinical manifestations of vitamin
D deficiency. Biochemical evidences of suboptimal bone health are: elevated alkaline phosphatase, a
surrogate marker for increased bone turnover, and elevated PTH levels (secondary
hyperparathyroidism or SHPT). ALP and PTH were often reported in research papers, especially with
respect to their correlation with vitamin D status. However, the most accurate and convincing evidence
of bone density is DEXA. Only research articles reporting BMD, as measured by DEXA, in the
context of vitamin D status of ostensibly healthy individuals are included in this section (Table 2).
Vitamin D intervention studies that measured resultant BMD outcomes are discussed later in section
15 of this review.
Most studies did not show any correlation of BMD with vitamin D status. Notably, among
90 adults, who were 20–30 year-old soldiers from Indian paramilitary forces, with adequate nutrition,
sun exposure and physical exercise, BMD was lower when compared to Caucasians. Among men,
osteopenia was noted in 50% at the lumbar spine, 35% at the hip, and 50% at the forearm.
Additionally, 10% of men had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. Among women, osteopenia was noted
in 32% at the lumbar spine, 14% at the hip and 21% at the forearm. The authors speculated that the
effect of childhood malnutrition may have contributed to lower peak bone mass accumulation in these
subjects [56]. BMD studies emphatically underline the need for adequate nutrition, sun exposure and
physical exercise from the very beginning of one’s life, to attain peak bone mass, and later to maintain
it. Indubitably, vitamin D status in India is grim and needs to be reckoned with.
10. Vitamin D Sufficiency via Sun Exposure Is Not a Tenable Solution for Most Indians
Vitamin D deficiency is a major health concern in India, notwithstanding the brightly shining sun.
The “adequacy of exposure to sunlight of an individual’s bare skin” required to photosynthesize
vitamin D is grossly ill understood. Darker skin has high melanin content which acts as a natural
sunscreen. Therefore, darker skin produces a significantly lesser amount of vitamin D when compared
with the individuals with fairer skin, such as Caucasians [60–62]. Thus, for Indian skin tone, minimum
“direct sun exposure” required daily is more than 45 min to bare face, arms and legs to sun’s UV rays
(wavelength 290–310 nm). With the exception of those who perforce need to work outdoors in the sun,
most Indians do not get adequate sun exposure to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D
endogenously. Indian social and or religious norms related to public modesty dictate that most parts of
Nutrients 2014, 6 736
an individual’s body, irrespective of gender, be covered. The not so D-lightful price of urbanization —in
big cities a majority of people live in very high population density areas. They perforce live in
overcrowded tenements, which are closely packed and 3–4 stories high. Consequently, direct sunlight
does not reach inside most parts of the dwellings, thereby disallowing any sun exposure to an
individual in the privacy of one’s home. Additionally, lack of space offers limited options for outdoor
activities. Atmospheric pollution of metropolitan India also factors in with respect to vitamin D status [63].
Use of sunscreen creams and umbrellas do not help either. The extreme discomfort of the scorching
heat associated with most sunny days of Indian summer and (not to mention) the undying desire of
most Indians to attain a fairer skin complexion instantly extinguish any desire for sun exposure, and a
person’s primary focus is on finding ways to avoid the sun, at all costs. In the blazing heat of India
these two concerns score very high and the quest for vitamin D sufficiency takes a backseat, always.
Therefore, in the Indian scenario, vitamin D sufficiency cannot be attained by depending on adequate
sun exposure.
11. Nutritional Factors Attributing to High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in India
Vitamin D sufficiency by dietary intake is the only tenable solution for Indians. However, this
solution itself has a barrage of problems.
Most dietary sources of vitamin D have very low vitamin D content. Most of the food items rich
in vitamin D are of animal origin. Most Indians are vegetarians. Commonly, a dietary source of
vitamin D for vegetarians is milk, provided milk has been fortified with vitamin D. Milk is rarely
fortified with vitamin D in India. The vitamin D content of unfortified milk is very low
(2 IU/100 mL). Additionally, milk and milk products are unaffordable to the socioeconomically
underprivileged. Another concern in India is the rampant dilution and/or adulteration of milk and
milk products.
Low calcium in Indian diet: Low dietary intake of calcium in conjunction with vitamin D
insufficiency is associated with secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT). SHPT is further
exacerbated by induced destruction of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)
2
D by 24 hydroxylase [64].
24 hydroxylase is the key enzyme of vitamin D catabolism and is regulated by 1,25(OH)
2
D, PTH
and FGF23 (Fibroblast Growth Factor 23) levels. FGF23 is a phosphate regulator. High serum
phosphate levels increase production of FGF23 in bone osteocytes via the action of 1,25(OH)
2
D.
Subsequently, FGF23 reduces renal phosphate resorption, indirectly suppresses intestinal
phosphate absorption and also suppresses PTH and 1,25(OH)
2
D synthesis. Overproduction of
FGF23 can result in increased morbidity associated with vitamin D deficiency [65]. This
regulatory mechanism may explain the low 25(OH)D levels in rural subjects on a high phytate
and/or low calcium diet, despite plentiful sun exposure. Most studies reported calcium intake
much lower than the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) defined by the Indian Council of
Medical Research (ICMR). Only two studies reported adequate calcium intake. In both these
publications the study subjects were paramilitary soldiers [55,56]. ICMR’s RDA for calcium
intake in India is lower than that of the western world.
Calcium balance is a function of intake and excretion [66,67]. Even though the Indian diet is
low in calcium content, it also has a lower protein content and therefore low endogenous
Nutrients 2014, 6 737
acid production, which may reduce urinary calcium loss. Therefore, the amount of dietary
calcium required to maintain calcium balance may be lower than for those in the Occident. The
protein-induced alterations in calcium homeostasis (and possibly in bone mass) have been
attributed to increments in endogenous acid production and net acid excretion due to the
oxidation of the constituent sulfur containing amino acids. On the other hand, the high salt
content of Indian diet is likely to increase urinary calcium excretion. A direct relation between
high sodium intake and lower bone mass has been reported [68].
Intake of caffeine from tea and coffee is very high in India. Most Indians consume milk as part
of their tea or coffee. The proportion of milk is very low in these drinks. Thus calcium intake
through these beverages is low. Vitamin D is stable during cooking. It is stable up to 200 °C.
However, thermal stability of vitamin D is an inverse function of both temperature and time.
In India, milk is boiled for several minutes before consumption. Before the same lot of milk is
consumed in entirety, it is subjected to two-three rounds of boiling. In India most of the times,
beverages like tea and coffee are boiled for several minutes to get the right flavor. This boiling
may reduce the content of any vitamin D that there may have been left after boiling of the milk
itself. Therefore, these beverages may not contribute significantly to either calcium or vitamin D
intake in Indians. Vitamin D is a fairly robust vitamin. The preceding statements about its
thermal degradation have been made as precautionary stance to not overstate the thermal
robustness of this micronutrient. Additionally, studies have reported association of high caffeine
intake with increased risk of low bone mineral density, osteoporosis, and osteoporotic fractures
in middle-aged women. This situation is exacerbated in women with low calcium intake,
especially in lean subjects [69].
High prevalence of lactose intolerance in India is a major deterrent pertaining milk consumption,
further lowering intake of calcium and vitamin D in these individuals. Ethnic and geographic
variations of lactose intolerance were observed, with a higher prevalence in southern (Dravidian
descent) and eastern India compared to northern India (Aryan descent) [70–73].
Indian diet has high phytate content. Phytate is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many
plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. Phytate is indigestible to
humans. Phytates chelate micronutrients such as calcium and iron, and thus reduce intestinal
absorption of these nutrients. Benefits of sun exposure in rural subjects owing to an agrarian life
were seen by significantly higher 25(OH)D levels [74]. However, possibly owing to high phytate
content in diet, these levels were still insufficient in most individuals. Possibly, high phytate
content in the diet of soldiers in northern India may have contributed to their vitamin D
insufficiency, despite adequate sun exposure, nutrition and physical exercise [56].
Notably, nearly all studies pertaining vitamin D status in healthy subjects reported a high
phytate/calcium intake ratio. What Indians may require is a higher intake of calcium in their diet
to lower the phytate/calcium intake ratio. Dietary habits in India have changed significantly. Many
people remove a substantial proportion of bran from whole wheat flour before kneading to
improve texture and fluffiness of chapatis (unleavened flat bread). Consumption of white bread
is also very high. Most people prefer processed, split and polished pulses to whole seeds due to
the ease of shorter time required for cooking and the consequent lowered expense of cooking
Nutrients 2014, 6 738
fuel. Consumption of instant (or not) noodles and burgers also is on the rise across all
socio-economic strata, with the exception of the impecunious.
High phytate in Indian diet especially among the socio-economically lower classes stems from
the elementary and immediate need of sufficiency of the calorific need. Cereals and legumes are
more affordable and easily available than vegetables, milk and other dairy products. Besides,
they are sources of protein for the vegetarians. Many cereals are also sources of calcium,
however due to chelation by phytates its bioavailability is limited.
In the scenario of inadequate calcium intake, vitamin D insufficiency and high phytate content in
diet, environmental pollutants such as fluoride add insult to injury. Toxins like fluoride affect
bone metabolism severely in the conjunction with inadequate calcium intake, especially in
children [75,76].
Cooking practices in India: Indians in general adhere to traditional cooking styles and practices,
irrespective of their migration to any part of the world. In tropical climate perishable food items
putrefy quickly. Notably, in India there is no perceptible government regulation on the hygiene
and microbial quality control of fresh produce that reaches from the producer to the
end-consumer. Consumption of uncooked fresh produce, especially vegetables, milk, etc., is
generally considered ill-advised. As in the rest of the world, in India too, slow cooking is widely
practiced. This culinary practice, however, is ill-advised bearing in mind the thermal instability
of many vitamins. As mentioned earlier vitamin D is degraded at temperatures above 200 °C. Its
thermal stability is inversely related to temperature and time. Cooking gas flame reaches
temperature above 1900 °C and coal stove heat reaches 300–700 °C. Water boils at 100 °C.
Baking is done mostly above 175 °C but the temperature in the food does not reach such high
temperatures, therefore stability of vitamin D during baking is well within acceptable
range [77]. Pertaining shallow and deep-frying of food, most cooking fats and oils have smoke
points above 180 °C. Shallow and deep frying of foods is very popular in India. When foods are
fried, vitamin D in the food comes out into the cooking medium and is thermally degraded [78].
Pressure cooking temperatures vary depending on the pressure withstood by the cooker used and
may range from 100 °C to 120 °C. Short-time (as short as possible) pressure cooking is
definitely advisable to retain at least some of the thermally more stable essential nutrients in
cooked food, including vitamin D.
Protein malnutrition and poor overall nutrition resulting from poverty: Perforce, in the sordid
context of poverty, focus on a balanced diet is always on the back burner. It is very convenient to
attribute dietary patterns or cooking traditions, than face a reality as grim as poverty. Factually,
balanced diet is only an occasional treat to the impecunious. An old adage, “When a poor man
eats chicken, one of them is sick”, says it all.
Publications indicating wide prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in healthy Indians have studied
subjects mostly from lower and upper middle classes. Individuals below poverty line were not
represented well in these studies. Hence, poor nutrition observed in these studies may also stem
from lack of awareness of the features, benefits and necessity of balanced nutrition.
Nutrients 2014, 6 739
Table 1. Vitamin D status of ostensibly healthy Indians. All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL,
nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as
30 ng/mL;
Information available from the abstract of the article. Age of the subjects is in mean age (SD) years, unless otherwise indicated.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Northern India
Kashmir
(34.3° N)
Total N = 92 Adults, age 28.15 (4.9) years. - 83 - - Zargar
2007 [79]
N = 64 M 15.06 (12.0) 76.6 - -
N = 28 F 5.51 (4.42) 94.4 - -
N = 50 Urban subjects 11.26 (9.65) 85.7 - -
N = 42 Rural subjects 12.84 (12.39) 80 - -
N = 17
N = 23
N = 15
N = 23
N = 14
Occupation:
Rural/farmer, 17 M/0 F
Government employee, 20 M/3 F
Household, 0 M/15 F
Medical professional, 16 M/7 F
Student 11 M/3 F
-
-
-
-
-
70.6
69.6
100
91.3
85.3
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Punjab
(31.1° N) &
Haryana
(29° N)
Total N = 90 Adults, paramilitary soldiers. Adequate diet, sun exposure
and physical exercise.
- - - - Tandon
2003 [56]
N = 40 M, in winter, age 22.7 (2.8) years. 18.4 (5.3) - - -
N = 50 F, in summer, age 23.4 (3.1) years. 25.3 (7.4) - - -
Chandigarh
(30.7° N
Total N = 329 Young urban adults, age 18–25 years, at the end of
summer
52.9 (33.7) - - 72.5%
Ramakrishnan
2011 [80]
N = 237 Subjects from the same cohort at the end of winter 31.8 (21.1) - - 50.7%
Nutrients 2014, 6 740
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 31 Urban adults, M, age 25 (5) years, soldiers, winter 18.87 (4.69) - - - Goswami
2000 [55]
N = 15 Urban adults, 10 M + 5 F, age 43 (16) years, depigmented
persons, winter
7.28 (4.49) - - -
N = 19 Urban adults, 11 M + 8 F, age 23 (5) years, physicians and
nurses, winter
3.19 (1.39) - - -
N = 19 Urban adults, 11 M + 8 F, age 24 (4) years, physicians and
nurses, summer
7.17 (3.19) - - -
N = 29 Urban adult F/mothers, age 23 (5) years, low income,
summer
8.76 (4.29) - - -
N = 29 Newborns of the mothers studied, 16 M + 13 F, summer 6.68 (1.99) - - -
Agota
village
(29° N)
80 km from
Delhi
Total N = 57 Rural Adults 14.56 (9) 68.5 - - Goswami
2008 [81]
N = 32 M, rural, age 42.8 (16.6) years 17.68 (9.76) - - -
N = 25 F, rural, age 43.4 (12.6) years 10.76 (6.86) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 186 Young adults F, age 18.6 (1.3) years 12.96 (9.84) - - - Marwaha
2011 [57]
N = 90 Sports-girls from colleges 21.2 (7.57) - - -
N = 96 College girls 5.16 (3.08) 100 0 0
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 642 Urban adults, middle income group 7 (4.08) - - - Goswami
2009 [82]
N = 244 Adult M, age 31.4 (13.4) years 7.2 (3.64) - - -
N = 398 Adult F, age 35.1 (13.4) years 6.88 (4.36) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 105 Urban adults, middle income group, age 43.3 (9.7) years 9.8 (6.0) 94.3 - - Vupputuri
2006 [83]
N = 51 M, indoor workers 10.8 (6.8) - - -
N = 54 F, housewives 8.8 (4.9) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 404 Adolescents, F, urban, age 12.3 (3.4) years 12.74 (6.17) 90.8 - - Puri
2008 [84]
N = 193 Low income level 13.84 (6.97) 89.6 - -
N = 211 Higher income level 11.75 (5.07) 91.9 - -
Nutrients 2014, 6 741
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 5137 Adolescents, urban, school children, age 10–18 years 11.8 (7.2) - - - Marwaha
2005 [85]
N = 3089 Lower income level, 1079 M, 2010 F 10.4 (0.4) 92.6 - -
N = 2048 Higher income level, 968 M, 1080 F 13.7 (0.4) 84.9 - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 664 Urban adolescent F, school girls, age 12.8 (2.7) years 11.4 (5.8) - - - Marwaha
2007 [86]
N = 369 Lower income level, age 12.8 (2.7) years 11.1 (5.2) - - -
N = 295 Higher income level, age 12.7 (2.6) years 11.8 (6.4) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total N = 1346 Urban adults 50 years, 643 M, 703 F, age 58 (9.5)years
(range 50–84 years)
9.79 (7.61) 91.2 6.8 2 Marwaha
2011 [87]
N = 995 Age group 50–65 years 9.72 (7.75) 91.3 6.9 1.8
N = 351 Age group >65 years 9.99 (7.2) 91.2 6.6 2.2
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 1346 Adults, 50 years, age 58 (9.5) years, 48% M, 52% F 9.8 (7.6) 91.3 6.8 1.9 Garg
2013 [88]
N = 1829 Adolescents, 45% M, 55% F, age 13.3 (2.5) years 8.3 (5.2) 96.9 2.6 0.5
Delhi
(28.3°N)
N = 521 Pregnant women, lower-middle income level,
age 24.6 (2.8) years
9.28 (4.88) 96.3 - - Marwaha
2011 [89]
N = 342 Lactating mothers, from the above group 6–8 weeks
postpartum.
7.84 (3.32) 99.7 - -
N = 342 Exclusively breastfed Infants 8.92 (4.2) 98.8 - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 180 Lactating mothers 10.88 (5.8) - - -
Seth
2009 [90]
N = 180 Exclusively breastfed infants, 2–24 weeks old 11.56 (8.3) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 26 Infants, urban, age 16 ± 4.1 months, 15 M/11 F, low
income families, high air pollution area
12.4 (7) - - - Agarwal
2002 [63]
N = 31 Infants, urban, 15.9 (3.8) months, 15 M/16 F, low income
families, low air pollution area
27.1 (7) - - -
Nutrients 2014, 6 742
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL) Mean
(SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Urban slum children, age 9–30 months Tiwari
2004 [91]
N = 47 Sundernagari area, winter 38.52 (10.28) - - -
N = 49 Rajiv Colony area, winter 9.5 (10.8) - - -
N = 48 Rajiv Colony area, summer 7.12 (8.96) - - -
N = 52 Gurgaon area, summer 7.68 (8.08) - - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 60
Lactating mothers 25.0 (2.0) years 9.06 (4.78) 98.3 - - Mehrotra
2010 [92]
N = 60 Breastfed infants, 3.0 (0.14) months 9.03 (4.63) 100 0 0
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 98 Lactating mothers 23.1 (3.3) years Median
9.8 (5.0–13.8)
- - -
Jain
2011 [93]
N = 98 Breastfed infants, 58.2% M, age 13.6 (2.2)weeks Median
10.1 (2.5–17.1)
- - -
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 220
Infants, low birth-weight, at birth Median
6.5 (4.0–54.5)
93 - - Agarwal
2012 [94]
N = 127 Infants, low birth-weight, at 3 months Median
11.1 (4.0–78.0)
72.4 - -
N = 116 Infants, normal birth-weight, at birth Median
5.8 (4.0–26.6)
94.8 - -
N = 77 Infants, normal birth-weight, at 3 months Median
8.2 (4–29.7)
83.1 - -
N = 216 Mothers of low birth-weight infants, at term Median 5.6
(4.0–38.3)
93.5 4.2 2.3
N = 116 Mothers of normal birth-weight infants at term Median
5.8 (4.0–21.1)
96.6 1.7 1.7
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 97 Urban, lactating mothers, low income level 9.85 (6.28) - - - Agarwal
2010 [95]
N = 97 Exclusively breastfed infants, age 10 weeks 12.59 ( 8.37) - - -
Nutrients 2014, 6 743
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Lucknow,
26.8° N
N = 92 Urban adults, 67 F, 25 M, age 34.2 (6.7) years,
hospital staff
12.3 (10.9) 78.3 - - Arya
2004 [96]
Lucknow
(26.8° N)
Total N = 207 Pregnant women before labor, low and middle income
group, age 24.0 (4.1) years.
14 (9.3) - - -
Sachan
2005 [97]
N = 140 Urban F 14.0 (9.5) - - -
N = 67 Rural F 14.1 (8.9) - - -
N = 207 Neonates/cord blood 8.4 (5.7) 95.7 - -
Barabanki
32 km from
Lucknow
(27° N)
N = 139 Rural pregnant women, age 26.7 (4.1) years 15.12 (7.92) 74 - - Sahu
2009 [98]
N = 121 Rural F adolescents, age 14.3 (2.7) years. 13.32 (6.4) 88.6 - -
N = 28 sisters of 34 boys, age 14.4 (2.7) years, in winter 12.52 (5.4) - - -
N = 34 brothers of 28 girls, age 14 (3) years, in winter 27 (11.6) - - -
N = 260 Rural (pregnant women + girls) in summer 22.2 (7.92) - - -
N = 260 Rural (pregnant women + girls) in winter 10.92 (4.92) - - -
Varanasi
(25.3° N)
N = 200 Adults, M, 50 years, age 62.61 (7.64) years 18.96 (10.23) 58 28.5 13.5 Agarwal
2013 [99]
Southern India
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
Total N = 316 - 69.3 - - Harinarayan
2004 [74]
N = 191 Rural adults, age 44 (1.03) years 21 (0.46) 58.6 - -
N = 125 Urban adults, age 45.5 (0.95) years 13.52 (0.59) 85.6 - -
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
Total N = 1285 21% M, 79% F - - - - Harinarayan
2008 [100]
N = 205 Rural adults, age 43 years. 53% M, 47% F M 23.73 (0.8)
F19 (0.89)
M 44
F 70
M 39.5
F 29
M 16.5
F 1
N = 941 Urban adults, age 46 years. 14% M, 86% F
Hospital staff & relatives
M 18.54 (0.8)
F 15.5 (0.3)
M 62
F 75
M 26
F 19
M 12
F 6
N = 70 Rural children, age 13 years. 48% M, 52% F M 17 (1.3)
F 19 (1.59)
M 76.5
F 72.2
M 14.7
F 13.9
M 8.8
F 13.9
N = 69 Urban children, age 13 years. 43% M, 57% F M 15.57(1.2)
F 18.5 (1.66)
M 81.5
F 62.9
M 14.8
F 25.7
M 3.7
F 11.4
Nutrients 2014, 6 744
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
N = 164 Rural postmenopausal women, age 54 (8) years. 14.6 (7) 82 - - Harinarayan
2005 [101]
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
N = 150 Semi-urban postmenopausal women, age 60.1 (5.0) years 20.85 (8.63) 50 - - Paul
2008 [102]
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
Total N = 191 Semi-urban women - - - - Harinarayan
2011 [103]
N = 55 Reproductive F age 37.42 (0.72) years 15.70 (1.38) 76.3 16.4 7.3
N = 136 Postmenopausal F, age 53.29 (0.72) years. 17.70 (0.94) 66.9 22.8 10.3
Mysore
(12.3° N)
N = 559 Pregnant women at the 30th week of pregnancy,
age 24 years.
Median 15.12
(9.6–23.4)
66.5 - - Farrant
2009 [104]
Eastern India
Kolkata
(22.5° N)
N = 40 Doctors, 39 M, 1 F, age 52.22 (10.91) years. 13.02 (4.77) 92.5 5 2.5 Baidya
2012 [54]
Western India
Mumbai
(18.9° N)
N = 42 Pregnant women 37th week of pregnancy,
age 20–35 years, middle income group
22.99 (10.93) - - - Bhalala
2007 [105]
N = 42 Cord blood/neonates 19.36 (9.57) - - -
N = 35 Infants, 3 months old, exclusively breastfed 18.19 (9.74) - - -
Mumbai
(18.9° N)
Total N = 214 Urban adults, 81% M, 19% F, age 26–30 years. -
87.5 - - Multani
2010 [58]
N = 174 M, Resident doctors 12.80 (7.94) 85 - -
N = 40 F, Resident doctors 10.94 (4.54) 97.5 - -
Mumbai
(18.9° N)
Total N = 1137 Young urban adults, age 30.38 (3.55) years 17.4 (9.1) - - 7.2 Shivane
2011 [106]
N =558 M 18.9 (8.9) - - 9.7
N =579 F 15.8 (9.1) - - 4.8
Nutrients 2014, 6 745
Table 1. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D
(ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
% deficient % insufficient % sufficient
Pune
(18.5° N)
N = 110 Slum toddlers, age 2.6 (0.7) years - - - - Ekbote
2010 [107]
N = 50 25 M, 25 F, outdoors (daily sun exposure of 15–60 min or
more)
45.24 (31.88) - - -
N = 60 31 M, 29 F, indoors 3.84 (10.64) - - -
Pune
(18.5° N)
N = 71 Urban children, 36 M, 35 F, age 2.8 (0.6) years, all income
groups
11.94 (12.61) - - - Ekbote
2011 [108]
Pune
(18.5° N)
N = 50 Adolescent girls, low income group, age 14.7 (0.10) years Median 9.36
(5.4–12.76)
- - - Khadilkar
2010 [109]
Pune
(18.5° N)
Women: housewives, working women, retired - - - - Kadam
2010 [110]
N = 80 Premenopausal F, age 45.6 (4.8) years 9.68 (4.56) - - -
N = 92 Postmenopausal F, age 54.0 (7.1) years. 10.76 (6.8) - - -
Pune
(18.5° N)
Total N = 214 Premenarchal school girls, low income group 24.6 (10.4) 34.2 - - Kadam
2011 [111]
N = 134 Age 8–9 years 24.36 (10.32) - - -
N = 80 Age 10–12 years 25.12 (10.64) - - -
All over India
18 cities
spread all
over India
N = 2119 Adults, medical and paramedical personnel, 72% M, 28%
F, age 42.71 (6.8) years.
14.35 (10.62) 79 15 6 Beloyartseva
2012 [59]
No significant differences were found either between men and women, or northern and southern India.
Nutrients 2014, 6 746
Table 2. Vitamin D status and its correlation with bone mineral density (BMD) in ostensibly healthy Indians. For additional details of vitamin
D status, see Table 1. All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5).
Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL. DEXA is Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. Age of the subjects is in mean
age (SD) years, unless otherwise indicated.
Locale Study Subjects BMD Measured by DEXA as Mean (SD) gm/cm
2
Reference
Vitamin D status correlated positively with BMD:
Varanasi
(25.3° N)
N = 200 Adults, M, 50 years,
age 62.61 (7.64) years,
58% subjects were
vitamin D deficient.
At right femoral neck, 42% subjects had osteopenia and 8.5% had osteoporosis. At trochanter of right
femur, 37% had osteopenia and 7.5% had osteoporosis. At right hip 41% subjects had osteopenia and
7% had osteoporosis.
Mean T scores of the subjects (right femur): Neck = 0.92 (1.22), Trochanter = 0.59 (1.41) and
Total hip = 0.55 (1.37). T score = (subject’s BMD-young adult mean BMD)/(1 SD of adult
mean BMD) or normal BMD.
Agarwal
2013 [99]
25(OH) D level > 22 ng/mL normal mean BMD at femur neck, trochanter, and total hip
25(OH)D < 10 ng/mL osteoporosis at femur neck and trochanter
25(OH) > 15 ng/mL osteopenia at femur neck and total hip
25(OH) > 16 ng/mL osteopenia at trochanter
Vitamin D status correlated positively with BMD, but not at all the sites studied:
Lucknow,
26.8° N
N = 92 Urban adults, M 25, F 67,
78.3% subjects were vitamin
D deficient.
BMD of the spine, femur (neck, trochanter, inter-trochanter and Wards’ triangle regions) and forearm
(distal, mid and ultradistal regions) was lower compared with Caucasians. 25(OH)D levels correlated
with BMD at the femoral neck (r = 0.46, p = 0.037) and Ward’s triangle only. (r = 0.50, p = 0.020)
Arya
2004 [96]
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total
N = 105
Urban adults, 51 M and 54 F,
age 43.3 (9.7) years. 94.3%
subjects were vitamin D
deficient.
25(OH)D levels correlated with BMD at hip, but not at lumbar spine or forearm. Vupputuri
2006 [83]
N = 41 25(OH)D > 9.0 ng/mL BMD at the hip = 0.893 (0.114) was higher than of those at 25(OH)D 9.0 ng/mL (p = 0.001)
N = 64 25(OH)D 9.0 ng/mL BMD at the hip = 0.839 (0.112)
Nutrients 2014, 6 747
Table 2. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects BMD Measured by DEXA as Mean (SD) gm/cm
2
Reference
Vitamin D status did not correlate with BMD:
Punjab
(31.1° N)
&
Haryana
(29° N)
N = 42 Adults, age 20–30 years,
20 M, 22 F, paramilitary
soldiers. Adequate diet, sun
exposure and physical
exercise.
Individual BMD data with peak bone mass in white Caucasians revealed that among Indian men,
osteopenia was noted in 50% at the lumbar spine, 35% at the hip and 50% at the forearm. 10% of men
had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. Among women, osteopenia was noted in 32% at the lumbar spine,
14% at the hip and 21% at the forearm. In men, mean BMD was significantly lower when compared to
Caucasians at the lumbar spine only. Indian men = 0.947 (0.086) vs. Caucasian controls = 1.091 (0.110),
p = 0.0004.
Tandon
2003 [56]
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 664 Urban adolescent F, school
girls, age 12.8 (2.7) years.
Lower income level N = 369
and Higher income level
N = 295.
The upper income level girls were significantly taller and weighed more. They also had higher BMD in
distal forearm and calcanium.BMD forearm (g/cm
2
): lower income level 0.337 (0.070) and upper
income level 0.366 (0.075). BMD calcaneum (g/cm
2
): lower income level 0.407 (0.073) and upper
income level 0.464 (0.093).
Marwaha
2007 [86]
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 5137 Urban adolescents and
school children, age 10–18
years. 92.6% children from
lower income level (N =
3089) and 84.9% children
from upper income level (N
= 2048) were vitamin D
deficient.
BMD was evaluated in 555 children. Children in the lower income level group had significantly lower
BMD values at the forearm than did those in the upper income level group. Only BMD of age group
(10–12) years is mentioned in this review. Boys, lower income level = 0.313 (0.044), (N = 27); boys,
upper income level = 0.387 (0.146), (N = 24); girls, lower income level = 0.297 (0.048), (N = 70) and
girls upper income level = 0.345 (0.054), (N = 39).
Marwaha
2005 [85]
Delhi
(28.3° N)
N = 1600 Urban adults (M 49.5%,
F 50.5%), age > 50 years.
91.2% subjects were
vitamin D deficient.
35.1% subjects (M 24.6% and F 42.5%) had osteoporosis and
49.5% (M 54.3%, F 44.9%) had osteopenia.
Marwaha
2011 [112]
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Total
N = 186
Young urban college women,
age 18.6 (1.3) years. 96 were
college girls (control group)
and 90 were sportswomen.
With the exception of femur neck, higher BMD was noted in sportswomen by 5, 13.1, 10.3,
and 9.2% in total body, total hip, forearm and lumbar spine and 33% radius, respectively.
Marwaha
2011 [57]
Nutrients 2014, 6 748
Table 2. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects BMD Measured by DEXA as Mean (SD) gm/cm
2
Reference
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
Total
N = 149
Semi-urban women. 82.5%
out of 40 premenopausal
and 67.8% out of 109
postmenopausal women were
vitamin D deficient.
Comparatively, postmenopausal women had lower BMD in forearm, hip and lumbar spine. Osteoporosis
was seen at hip (15% and 28%), forearm (0% and 11%), lumbar spine
antero-posterior (6% and 22%) and lumbar spine lateral (0% and 23%) among premenopausal and
postmenopausal, respectively.
Harinarayan
2011 [103]
Tirupati
(13.4° N)
N = 150 Semi-urban postmenopausal
women, age 60.1 (5) years.
50% women were vitamin D
deficient.
Osteoporosis was noted at lumbar spine in 48% women, at femoral neck in 16.7% women
BMD: lumbar spine (LS) = 0.798 ± 0.142, femoral neck = 0.675 ± 0.108
Paul
2008 [102]
N = 74 25(OH)D (>20 ng/mL) BMD: lumbar spine = 0.816 (no SD), femoral neck = 0.694 (no SD)
N = 59 25(OH)D (10–20 ng/mL) BMD: lumbar spine = 0.780 (no SD), femoral neck = 0.657 (no SD)
N = 14 25(OH)D (5–10 ng/mL) BMD: lumbar spine = 0.733 (0.151), femoral neck = 0.649 (0.102)
Mumbai
(18.9° N)
N = 214 Resident doctors M 81.3%,
F 18.7%, age 26–30 years.
87.5% subjects were vitamin
D deficient.
59.7% men and 67.5% women had osteopenia. 18.39% men and 12.5% women had osteoporosis. Multani
2010 [58]
Pune
(18.5° N)
N = 50 Adolescent girls, low income
group, age 14.7 (0.10) years.
Pune girls had lower bone area and bone mineral content, (i.e., shorter and lighter girls) compared to UK
South Asian and UK Caucasian girls.
Khadilkar
2010 [109]
Pune
(18.5° N)
N = 172 Semi-urban women.
Premenopausal N = 80,
and postmenopausal N = 92.
Comparatively, postmenopausal women had lower BMD in femoral neck, total hip and lumbar spine.
Prevalence of osteoporosis at lumbar spine was observed in 25.8% of postmenopausal women and 7.6%
of pre-menopausal women. Prevalence of osteopenia was observed in 48.4% of post-menopausal and
44.3% of premenopausal women.
Kadam
2010 [110]
Nutrients 2014, 6 749
12. Genetic and Epigenetic Factors Affecting Vitamin D Status
Genetic factors leading to vitamin D deficiency in Indians, due to their effect on expression of
genes that modulate vitamin D metabolism may not be ruled out. Genetic factors such as
polymorphisms in 7 dehydroxylase reductase, DBP, 1 alpha hydroxylase, VDR, 25 hydroxylase,
24 hydroxylase have been studied. However, a clear association between these polymorphisms and
vitamin D status is yet to be established [113–115]. Epigenetic factors too may be important in this
context. Epigenetic factors pertain to heritable changes in the gene expression, while the DNA sequence
is unchanged. These are several possibilities—post-translational modifications of histones—methylation,
acetylation and phosphorylation, and also aberrant expression of microRNAs. Interaction between
genetic and environmental factors, modulated by epigenetic factors has been reported. 1α hydroxylase
and 24 hydroxylase have been shown to be epigenetically controlled. Information regarding
association between genetic and/or epigenetic factors and vitamin D status is inconclusive and
warrants further study [116].
13. Population Based Approaches to Improve Vitamin D Status in India: Supplementation,
Food Fortification and Educational Programs
There is protracted debate ongoing on issues pertaining optimal levels of intake of vitamin D,
preferred form of vitamin D for human use and extraskeletal benefits of vitamin D. However, one
thing is clear—Indians need more vitamin D. Vitamin D can be obtained from three sources: sun
exposure (limitations of which has been discussed earlier), vitamin D supplements and vitamin D
fortified foods. There is urgent need to prioritize development of national level programs to make
available, quality-regulated and affordable vitamin D supplements and vitamin D fortified foods to the
Indian populace. Very importantly, the government needs to implement measures to educate the Indian
populace about the current status of vitamin D in India and also the modes to attain vitamin D sufficiency.
14. Vitamin D Supplements Available in India
Information was collected from 10 pharmacists, from an upper middleclass locality of Delhi.
Supplements commonly available are—D
3
(cholecalciferol), 1,25(OH)
2
D
3
and 1 alpha hydroxy
vitamin D
3
(alfacalcidol). Some formulations have calcium too. Multivitamin formulations are also
available and contain about 400 IU of D
3
. None of the pharmacists had heard of D
2
supplements. D
3
supplement of 60,000 IU is the highest selling one and is available in powder form in sachets or as
oil-based capsules. Recommended dose on the label is once per week. The sachets indicate that half a
sachet per week may also be taken. According to some pharmacists, many clinicians recommended
1 sachet daily for 10 days, followed by 1 sachet/week for 5–6 weeks to 1 sachet/week forever. The
other vitamin D supplements mentioned here are present in lower doses (0.25 µg or 500 IU) and daily
intake (1–4 times/day) may be recommended by the clinicians. Calcium supplementation is generally
recommended with vitamin D intake.
The cost of a single dose of 60,000 IU of vitamin D
3
is about INR 30. Intake of 60,000 IU of
vitamin D
3
per week may be advisable for a short duration, for patients with severe vitamin D
deficiency, but a regular weekly dose may be lead to toxicity problems. A lower dose of vitamin D not
Nutrients 2014, 6 750
exceeding the limit of 4000 IU per day would be advisable for otherwise healthy individuals. This will
also reduce the cost of the supplement and become more affordable to the common people of India.
Purchase of most drugs in India does not require a prescription. Additionally, more often than not
pharmacists (commonly called “Chemists” in India) often claim to have all the information needed to
prescribe medicines. Other than for acute health problems most socioeconomically backward people
go directly to the pharmacist, more often than not, in order to save consultation fee of a licensed
clinician. Pharmacists boldly recommended and sell medications to patients and often recommend a
longer duration of medications to boost their sales. It is not uncommon for active vitamin D analogs
such as calcitriol or 1-alpha D to be wrongfully prescribed by physicians and pharmacists in lieu of
nutritional vitamin D supplements, thus putting unsuspecting patients at grave risk of hypercalcemia
and if taken long-term possibly vascular calcification and kidney stones. In this context, it is very
important that the along with the clinicians, pharmacists also be educated about toxicity issued related
with vitamin D.
15. Vitamin D Supplementation Studies in Ostensibly Healthy Indians
Vitamin D supplementation studies in ostensibly healthy were compiled (Table 3). Supplementation
resulted in significant improvement in vitamin D status, but a large proportion of the population had
still did not attain sufficiency. The following study is noteworthy. In India, physicians often prescribe
D
3
60,000 IU per week for 8 weeks for vitamin D deficiency. Twenty two healthy Indians with
subnormal serum 25(OH)D levels were supplemented with oral D
3
60,000 IU/week and calcium
1 gm/day for 8 weeks. At 8 weeks the mean 25(OH)D levels increased from 10.16 (3.96) ng/mL to
22.4 (6.8) ng/mL and serum PTH normalized in all. Twenty two of the 23 subjects had 25(OH)D levels
> 20 ng/mL. At the end of 12 months however, all the subjects were vitamin D deficient, once again.
To sustain optimal 25(OH)D levels vitamin D supplementation would need to be ongoing after the
initial loading [117].
Some supplementation studies, in ostensibly healthy adolescents and adult subjects, resulted in
improved bone health. These are tabulated separately (Table 4).
More frequent and lower doses, not exceeding 4000 IU/day of vitamin D supplementation may be
better for maintenance of serum 25(OH)D level. Most of the studies from India mention vitamin D
status in terms serum 25(OH)D levels as below or above 20 ng/mL (or 50 nmol/L). However, one must
not lose sight of the fact that the aim of all interventions in terms of vitamin D status should be
30 ng/mL or above to derive both skeletal and extraskeletal benefits of this D-lightful nutrient [118],
but with a precautionary stance to not exceed 100 ng/mL.
16. Vitamin D Fortification in USA and Canada
Despite predominantly non-vegetarian dietary pattern, approximately 60% of the intake of vitamin
D from food comes from fortified foods in USA [119] and Canada [120]. In USA, vitamin D
fortification of foods is voluntary, but it is strictly regulated pertaining categories of foods, functional
use and level of use, thus limiting over-fortification. Vitamin D fortified milk has been available in
USA since the 1930s. Vitamin D is added to most milk sold in the United States, although it is not
added to all milk products like cheese and ice cream. Some manufacturers also add it to cereal, soy
Nutrients 2014, 6 751
milk, rice milk, and orange juice, usually along with calcium. In USA either form, D
2
or D
3
, may be
used for fortification, but commonly D
3
is used. In Canada, the law mandates fortification of milk,
milk alternatives and margarine. Similar to USA, for other permitted foods, vitamin D fortification D
is voluntary, but fortification level is limited [121].
17. Need for Vitamin D Fortified Food Products in India
Vitamin D sufficiency via sun exposure is untenable for most Indians, as discussed earlier. Vitamin D
(relatively) rich dietary sources are unaffordable and mostly limited, especially for vegetarians. Most
Indians are vegetarians. Vitamin D supplements are unaffordable and not feasible as a population
based approach. Fortification of widely consumed staple foods with vitamin D is the only viable
solution towards attaining vitamin D deficiency in India. Unlike supplementation strategies,
fortification of food with vitamin D poses a negligible risk of toxicity.
18. Feasibility of Fortification of Foods with Vitamin D in India
Food fortification is a much more economically viable approach compared to vitamin D
supplementation. While the cost of fortified food items will be more than unfortified foods, it will be
lower than supplementation.
1. Adaptability to fortified food by the consumers is much better than to supplementation. Food
fortification requires relatively less change in food habits and preferences, leading to better
efficacy of fortification programs, lowered cost to the consumer and a larger profit to the food
manufacturers. Clearly a win-win partnership for all.
2. Food fortification may be a better choice compared to supplementation strategies, especially
when targeting those who need it the most—women (including non-pregnant, pregnant and
lactating), infants, children (especially girls, who are sidelined, more often than not, in India) and
senior citizens.
3. Use of staple foods such as chapati flour, rice, etc., for fortification may have certain advantages
over other fortification matrices. Indian government offers cereals, chapati flour, rice, lentils,
etc., at subsidized rates to the socioeconomically underprivileged citizens. Additionally, cost of
these products is generally tightly regulated by the government. Thus, no large fluctuations are
observed in the cost of these food items in the open market also. This will ensure continued
consumption of these foods fortified with vitamin D, by those who avail of them and result in
better and sustained economical feasibility of the fortification programs in the long run.
4. Two vitamin D fortification studies in ostensibly healthy subjects were reported in the literature
(see Table 5). Underprivileged toddlers, fed with fortified laddoos, resulted in significant
increase in serum calcium and vitamin D levels and also in total body less head (TBLH) bone
mineral content (BMC) [122]. The cost of fortified laddoo was INR 20 per laddoo, which may
be prohibitive in itself. More cost effective food items could be fortified with vitamin D.
In another study, 776 subjects (boys and girls) were given fortified milk, which resulted in
significant improvement in their vitamin D status [123]. These results support the strategy of
fortification of foods in India for redressing malnutrition problems in India.
Nutrients 2014, 6 752
Table 3. Vitamin D supplementation studies in ostensibly healthy Indians. All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from
nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and
sufficiency as 30 ng/mL.
Information available from the abstract of the article. D
3
is cholecalciferol. Calcium amount mentioned is of
elemental calcium. Age of the subjects is in mean age (SD) years, unless otherwise indicated.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
Barabanki, 32 km
from Lucknow
(27° N)
Total N = 84, Rural pregnant women, low income
group, all received 1 gm calcium/day
Median 12.92
(9.12–20.04)
- - -
Sahu
2009 [124]
N = 14, Control group
Median 10.32
(7.56–12.28)
-
Median 9.52
(6.88–13.04)
-
N = 35, Group A, 60,000 IU D
3
in
the 5th gestational month
Median 13.26
(9.04–19.08)
-
Median 12.36
(9.92–19.24)
-
N = 35, Group B, 120,000 IU D
3
in the 5th and 7th
gestational month
Median 16.04
(10.76–23.36)
-
Median 21.36
(16.46–35.02)
-
Lucknow
(26.8° N)
Pregnant women and neonates. Women age
26.7 (4.0) years, low and middle income group.
All were prescribed 1 gm calcium/day
- - - -
Kalra
2012 [125]
N = 48, Control group -
Median 15.68
(8.48–29.36)
-
N = 33, Neonates of control group - -
Median 7.4
(4.04–11.88)
-
N = 48, Group A, 60,000 IU D
3
in 2nd trimester
Median 12.68
(5.8–18.28)
-
Median 10.48
(7.08–23.08)
-
N = 31, Neonates of group A - -
Median 11.28
(6.04–17.2)
-
N = 48, Group B, 120,000 IU D
3
in 2nd and
3rd trimester
Median 12.8
(5.8–18.28)
-
Median 23.48
(15.36–35.76)
38
N = 28, Neonates of group B - -
Median 9.64
(4.88–17.56)
-
Nutrients 2014, 6 753
Table 3. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
Delhi (28.3° N) Low birth weight term infants,
from all income groups.
- - - -
Kumar
2011 [126]
N = 237, Control group - - 14.4 (10.2) 73.4
N = 216, Study group, started at 7 days after birth,
1400 IU D
3
(dissolved in breast milk) per week, given
for 6 months
- - 22.0 (9.0) 43.5
Delhi (28.3° N) Low birth weight term infants, from all
income groups.
- - - -
Trilok-Kumar
2012 [127]
N = 187, Control group - - 15.1 (10.5) 72.19
N = 164, Study group, started at 7 days after birth,
1400 IU D
3
(dissolved in breast milk) per week, given
for 6 months
- - 22.8 (8.9) 37.8
Delhi (28.3° N) Urban adolescent schoolgirls - 93.7 - - Marwaha
2010 [128]
N = 60, low income group, age 12 (2.8) years,
60,000 IU D
3
/2 months, for 1 year
12.48 (0.67) 98 21.2 (1.22) 38
N = 64, low income group, age 11.4 (3) years,
60,000 IU D
3
/month, for 1 year
13.17 (0.54) 97 23.73 (1.05) 28
N = 81, high income group, age 11.6 (2.7) years, 60,000
IU D
3
/2 months, for 1 year
11.65 (0.61) 94 15.3 (0.85) 80
N = 85, high income group, age 11.7 (2.8) years, 60,000
IU D
3
/month, for 1 year
12.32 (0.55) 88 19.97 (0.80) 57
Nutrients 2014, 6 754
Table 3. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
Delhi (28.3° N)
Total N = 482, Adolescents, after 60,000 IU D
3
/week, as
per each group. All subjects in all groups received 600
IU D
3
/day for 12 weeks
- - - -
Garg
2013 [129]
Group A, 60,000IU D
3
/week for 4 weeks - - - -
Group B, 60,000IU D
3
/week for 6 weeks - - 27.0 (6.6) -
Group C, 60,000IU D
3
/week for 8 weeks - - 28.0 (8.7) -
Delhi (28.3° N) N = 172, Urban young women, nursing students, age
21.7 (4.4) years
9.3 (3.37) - - -
Goswami
2012 [130]
N = 43, Group A, double placebo 8.6 (3.26) - 7.7 (3.64) -
N = 43, Group B, 1 gm calcium/day 9.9 (3.24) - 8.1 (2.92) -
N = 43, Group C, 60,000 IU D
3
/week for
8 weeks, followed by 60,000 IU D
3
twice/month for
4 months
9.2 (3.40) - 29.9 (8.35) -
N = 43, Group D, 1 gm calcium/day. Also
60,000 IU D
3
/week for 8 weeks, followed by
60,000 IU D
3
twice/month for 4 months
9.5 (3.47) - 27.0 (9.54) -
Nutrients 2014, 6 755
Table 3. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
Delhi (28.3° N) Urban adults, medical students,
age 31.5 (5) years
- 100 - -
Gupta
2010 [131]
N = 20, Control group, 11 M, 9 F, double placebo 8.44 (3.76) - 11.88 (6.0) -
N = 20, Study group, 13 M, 7 F, received
1 gm calcium/day for months and 60,000 IU D
3
/week
for 8 weeks and then once per month for 4 months
10.16 (3.96) - 22.4 (6.8) -
Delhi (28.3° N) N = 23, Urban adults, age F 33.9 (13.1) years,
age M 34 (17) years. 60,000 IU D
3
/week for 8 weeks.
1 gm calcium was given daily for 8 weeks. Subjects
measured at 8 weeks.
5.4 (1.2) 100 32.96 (8.29) 4.3
Goswami
2008 [117]
The subjects were measured again at 12 months. 9.88 (4.6) 100
Delhi (28.3° N) Urban postmenopausal women, age 54.8 (6.7) years.
All subjects in all groups received calcium 1 gm/day for
3 months.
- 83.7% - -
Agarwal
2013 [132]
N = 21, Control group A 12.99 (6.74) - 8.0 (5.28) 95.3
N = 25, Group B, 500 IU/day D
3
for 3 months 12.92 (8.20) - 13.34 (9.52) 84.0
N = 18, Group C, 1000 IU/day D
3
for 3 months 14.38 (11.07) - 23.71 (11.71) 33.33
Nutrients 2014, 6 756
Table 4. Vitamin D supplementation studies reporting improved bone health post-intervention, in ostensibly healthy Indians (adolescents and
adults). All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D
deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. D
3
is cholecalciferol and D
2
is
ergocalciferol. Calcium amount mentioned is of elemental calcium. Age of the subjects is in mean age (SD) years, unless otherwise indicated.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
Bone Health Status
Pune
(18.5°N)
Urban, postmenarchal schoolgirls, age 14–15 years,
low income group. All the girls were shorter and
lighter compared to Indian norms.
- - -
Khadilkar
2010 [133]
N = 24, Control group: placebo and 250 mg
calcium/day for 1 year.
Median 8.32
(5.08–12.16)
Median 11.24
(6.68–13.6)
Mean increase in 25(OH)D was 19%, mean decrease in
PTH was 9%. BMD showed no change.
N = 25, Study group: 300,000 IU D
2
once every
3 months and 250 mg calcium/day for 1 year.
Study group was divided into sub groups: (1) girls who
had menarche within 2 years and (2) girls who had
menarche for over 2 years, at the start of the study.
Median 9.8
(5.08–13.28)
Median 30.08
(25.68–34.2)
Overall, 25(OH)D increased by 68% and PTH decreased
by 27%. No significant changes were observed in
subgroup (2). However, in subgroup (1) total bone
mineral content (TB BMC) and total bone area (TB BA)
increased and lumbar spine BMC was higher.
Pune
(18.5°N)
Urban, premenarchal schoolgirls, age 9.8 (1) years. All
the girls were shorter and lighter compared to Indian
norms. All subjects received 300,000 IU D
3
once every
3 months, for 1 year.
65.7%
vitamin D
deficient
-
TB BMC, TB BA, TB BMD, TB LBM (lean body mass)
and TB fat% increased significantly in all three groups
over baseline. There was no significant difference
between the results of study groups (Ca) and (Ca + MZ).
Khadilkar
2012 [134]
N = 69, Control group, two placebos. 23.08 (10.68) - Total body BMC increased by 17.6%,
N = 70, Study group (Ca), 500 mg calcium
6 days/week, for 1 year.
24.76 (10.36) - Total body BMC increased by 22.3%.
N = 71, Study group (Ca + MZ), 500 mg calcium and
multivitamin + zinc (Becosule-Z
®
) 1 tablet
6 days/week, for 1 year.
26.36 (10.92) - Total body BMC increased by 20.8%.
Nutrients 2014, 6 757
Table 5. Vitamin D food fortification studies in ostensibly healthy Indians. All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from
nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and
sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. Age of the subjects is in mean age (SD) years.
Locale Study Subjects and Fortification Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient % Sufficient
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient % Sufficient
Delhi
(28.3° N)
Northern
India
Total N = 713, Urban school children and
adolescents, age 11.74 (1.05) years, 300 M, 413 F.
All were given unfortified milk for 12 weeks and
then divided into 3 groups.
11.69 (5.36) 92.3 0.7 20.44 (9.88) - -
Khadgawat
2013 [123]
N = 237, Control group: Unfortified milk
200 mL/day for 12 weeks, 102 M, 135 F
11.74 (5.23) 93.6 - 10.83 (5.24) 94.0
N = 243, Study Group A, fortified milk, 600 IU
D
3
/200 mL/day for 12 weeks, 97 M, 146 F
11.42 (5.24) 95.0 1.23 22.87 (6.75) 30.0 12.34
N = 233, Study Group B, fortified milk, 1000IU
D
3
/200 mL/day for 12 weeks, 101 M, 132 F
11.94 (5.62) 87.9 0.42 27.67 (8.47) 18.9 36.05
Pune
(18.5° N)
Western
India
Total N = 58, Urban children, low income group, age 2.7 (0.52) years. While both groups received D
3
fortified laddoos. Control group received
only 156 mg of calcium, as opposed to 405 mg of calcium to the study group.
Ekbote
2011 [122]
N = 28, Control Group, 1 fortified laddoo *, 156 mg
of calcium, 5 times/week for a year. Also given, 1
laddoo with 30,000 IU D
3
/month for 1 year.
7.56 (10.8) 84 - 23.24(4.76) - -
N = 30, Study Group, 1 fortified laddoo, 405 mg of
calcium, 5 times/week for a year. Also given,
1 laddoo with 30,000 IU D
3
/month for 1 year.
10.0 (10.84) 83 - 25.75 (9.56) - -
* A laddoo is an Indian cereal-legume snack, spherical, about 4 cm in diameter and weight 50 g. The ingredients for unfortified laddoos, were ragi (Eleusine coracana)
and whole dried Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum) 7.5 g each, sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) and poppy seeds (Papaner somniferum) 5 g each, 5 g of clarified butter
(Ghee) and 15 gm of refined palm sugar.
Nutrients 2014, 6 758
19. Food Items Which Could Be Fortified with Vitamin D in India
1. Milk: The whole array of different grades of milk available could be fortified—whole milk,
toned, double toned and skim milk.
2. Milk curd and yogurt.
3. Infant formulas.
4. Butter, ghee (clarified butter) and oils, to use as spreads or to spike already cooked food.
5. Soy milk, soy curd (tofu), orange juice and mango juice may be fortified to cater to the needs of
the lactose intolerant individuals and those who are allergic to milk proteins. Processed cheese
also has very low lactose content and is rich in calcium and may be fortified for the benefit of the
lactose intolerant. Due to high prevalence of dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome and
cardiovascular diseases in India, these fortified items will also offer healthier choices to the
general population.
6. Widely consumed and affordable staple food items such as chapati flour, maida (all purpose
wheat flour, used to make bread and other bakery products), rice and rice flour may be suitable
vehicles for fortification strategies in the Indian scenario.
20. Foods Fortified with Vitamin D Available in the Indian Market
Vitamin D fortified milk from Amul
®
(an Indian dairy cooperative, located in Anand, Gujarat,
India) is the only fortified milk product found in the general market. It is 4.5% fat, homogenized milk
fortified with calcium 150 mg, vitamin A 75 μg and vitamin D 0.5 μg (20 IU), etc., per 100 mL. The
expiry date of this milk is 120 days if the carton is unopened. Incidentally, with a 10% or more loss per
month at 4 °C, there is not much vitamin D left by 120 days. It may be hoped that storage temperatures
are always adhered to. But in India this is a remote possibility due to economical and technical
limitations. In a brief survey, most retailers reported that the Amul
®
milk cartons supplied to them
were generally one month past expiry date already at the time of delivery and that the demand for this
product was very low. Cost per liter is INR 48 (as on 12 January 2013) as opposed to the cost of
unfortified milk (INR 30).
Kellogg’s breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin D along with other micronutrients are also
available. However, the exorbitant prices of these products are essentially prohibitive for consumption
by the common people of India.
21. Estimated Burden of Bone Diseases on Indian Healthcare System
There is no “national body” instituted by the government of India, to study and document the
prevalence of bone diseases in India. The following figures pertaining bone health were perforce taken
from research articles. In India, bone diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis have
been [67,135–137] and still are widely prevalent and formidable problems of our nation. As per 2001
Census Report about 163 million people were above the age of 50 years. This figure will be much
bigger from the 2011 Census Report and may exceed 200 million. About 15%–20% of persons above
the age of 50 years would be developing osteoporosis [136]. As presented in this review, BMD studies
of ostensibly healthy Indians show that a significant proportion of younger Indians too are suffering
Nutrients 2014, 6 759
from this silent disease. As the early signs of osteoporosis are diagnosed with accuracy, BMD data will
add to these already astounding figures. Some staggering figures and estimates pertaining rickets,
osteomalacia and osteoporosis are mentioned in some reviews [136,137].
Vitamin D status in India is grim not only in the lower and but also in the upper socioeconomic
classes. For the sake of simplicity and argument, let us consider only the skeletal benefits of vitamin D.
Vitamin D sufficiency in women of reproductive age would at the very least result in —improved
women’s health, improved outcome of childbirth and birth of infants who may have a better chance of
a healthy existence from the beginning of their lives. Vitamin D sufficiency in growing children would
mean allowing for their full growth potential—physically, mentally and psychologically. In children,
rickets translates into life-long deformity, osteomalacia—a painful and subpar existence. Osteoporosis
is a silent disease tethered to a constant threat of fractures to the unbeknownst afflicted. In elderly
patients, especially hip fractures result in the end of an independent existence. Notably, most people in
India do not have health insurance. Hospitalization of patients with hip fractures is much longer than
for those being treated for cancers. For those who cannot afford hospitalization for treatment, it is a
long, agonizing and often an unending wait for resurrection. This fact indicates the heavy load on the
healthcare system and the economy of the nation due to bone diseases alone.
22. Government’s Intervention Required
Vitamin D sufficiency status may not be treated as a “feel good status” for the affluent who can
afford medical expenses and expensive vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is prevalent across all
socioeconomic strata. It is imperative that policymakers understand the gravity of the situation
pertaining vitamin D status and as a consequence—the untold burden on the healthcare system in
India. The information presented in this article ought to persuade policymakers to take substantive
measures towards attaining vitamin D sufficiency. Actions needed to be taken by the government of
India are as follows:
1 Revision of RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) values for vitamin D and calcium intake, by
ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) is imperative.
2 Educational Programs: Vitamin D deficiency is the world’s most under-diagnosed and
under-treated disease. There is great need for awareness of its implications among physicians
and the general public at large. Adequate investment of money, time and effort is required to
develop, launch and sustain public awareness programs.
2.1 The curricula of medical colleges need to be updated pertaining vitamin D status of the
Indian populace. Inclusion of pertinent and updated information pertaining vitamin D, and
its skeletal and extraskeletal benefits is required.
2.2 Making bone and mineral health a priority: All healthcare facilities, including all primary
health care facilities should institute awareness programs to educate the physicians and the
local residents about the need for vitamin D sufficiency.
2.3 Active participation of social organizations is required. Social workers and school teachers
need to be duly informed and educated, so they can spread the word about necessity for
vitamin D sufficiency and the ways to achieve it.
Nutrients 2014, 6 760
2.4 Aggressive government sponsored mass media programs, with the aid of tele-media and
print media are required to educate the masses about the grim vitamin D deficiency status
in India. The masses should be educated on the benefits of a combination of sun exposure,
vitamin D fortified food items, supplements and regular physical exercise.
2.5 A need for sufficient calcium intake along with vitamin D must be stressed at all times.
3 Vitamin D supplements: Affordable, good quality and readily available vitamin D supplements
for the masses are needed. Vitamin D supplements should be made available at all primary care
health centers to pregnant women and lactating women.
4 Fortification of foods with vitamin D: First and foremost possibility thinking is required. Indian
government has successfully launched food-fortification programs before. The most visible
result to the public eye being—iodized salt. Fortification of food with vitamin D is doable.
Political and administration’s will and support should be available from the development stage
of the fortification program and equally importantly sustained.
4.1 Involvement of the food industry by encouraging private enterprises operating at the
national and local level is required. Support in terms of technical expertise pertaining
production of fortified food items, availability of standardized vitamin D formulation(s)
and information on the marketing potential of the fortified items should be made available.
4.2 Effective legislation to ensure good quality and regulated vitamin D fortified foods at
minimal cost to the end consumer is required. That said, both the administration and
legislature should very importantly be facilitative and not be restrictive or punitive to those
who are striving towards attaining better bone and mineral health of the masses.
5 School going children could benefit from the following:
5.1 Educators should emphatically teach the need for vitamin D sufficiency and benefits
of a healthy lifestyle. Inclusion of the benefits of vitamin D in the ken of the kids may
perchance spread this information to their (unaware) kin too.
5.2 Mandatory distribution of vitamin D fortified foods at midday meals in schools.
5.3 Daily physical exercise should be made compulsory in schools.
6 Affordable and widely accessible testing facilities for vitamin D levels should be made available
to individuals who are at high risk of clinical vitamin D deficiency.
7 Reliable and sensitive technology such as DEXA should be made available at minimal cost for
screening bone mineral density in individuals at high risk, with easy accessibility, throughout India.
8 Last, but not the least, government should extend support to research groups, so that the impact
of supplementation programs and fortification strategies in actual practice may be studied and
monitored and more efficacious ways developed. Continued research and epidemiological
studies are required, to clearly state the enormity of the vitamin D deficiency status and its
implications on general health of Indians, countrywide. Vitamin D status from western, eastern,
northeastern India and the Himalayan regions and are still either few or lacking. Also, the very
poor and the marginalized citizens have not been included in such studies.
Nutrients 2014, 6 761
23. A Lagniappe for the Readers: Other Countries of the Indian Subcontinent Present a Similar
Scenario Pertaining Vitamin D Status
Other countries of the Indian subcontinent: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and
Bhutan share the same geographic locale and socioeconomic culture with India. Data were compiled
from these countries too. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in these countries (Table 6). One
report was available from Pakistan pertaining bone health of ostensibly healthy subjects. In a cohort of
140 rural postmenopausal women from Khazana (34.7° N) and Nahaqi (34.2° N), age 52(SD 2) years,
42% had osteopenia and 28% had osteoporosis. 25(OH)D levels correlated with BMD [138].
No reports were available from other countries of the Indian subcontinent pertaining vitamin D status
and its correlation with BMD. One supplementation study from Bangladesh showed significant
improvement in the vitamin D status (Table 7). One supplementation study from Pakistan showed
significant improvement in the vitamin D status and improved bone health (Table 8). No food
fortification studies were available from any of these countries. From the available data, it is clear that
vitamin D scenario in these countries is similar to that in India. The data from other countries of the
Indian subcontinent also show that though India may be economically more advanced that some of its
neighbors, the vitamin D scenario is similar all over the subcontinent.
24. Conclusions
Widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in India is undeniable. Factually, sun exposure is an
untenable solution, for most individuals in India, towards attaining vitamin D sufficiency. Low
calcium intake in conjunction with vitamin D deficiency makes matters worse. The need for
improvement in vitamin status of the Indian population is both important and urgent. The Indian
government needs to take substantive measures in this direction. Revision of RDA for calcium and
vitamin D is required. Better facilities and technologies should be made available countrywide to
enable timely diagnosis of clinical manifestations of vitamin D deficiency in individuals who need
attention by the clinicians. Population-based programs at the national level must be developed to
increase awareness of the problem at hand, to provide affordable vitamin D supplements and also to
provide vitamin D fortified foods to the Indian populace at large. Research in this field needs
continued support to provide a comprehensive picture of the ongoing vitamin D problem and also to
study and monitor the effect(s) of a partnership between the government, healthcare system, industry
and consumers, aimed at improving the vitamin D status in India.
Nutrients 2014, 6 762
Table 6. Vitamin D status of ostensibly healthy subjects from other countries of the Indian subcontinent. All 25(OH)D values have been
shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL,
insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. Age of the subjects is in mean age (SD) years, unless otherwise indicated.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D (ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
%
Deficient
%
Insufficient
%
Sufficient
PAKISTAN
Lahore (31.5° N)
& Rawalpindi
(33.6° N)
N = 92
Adults, median age 29 (11–75) years,
rural & urban.
Median 29.7
(3.0–63.1)
- - - Rashid
1983 [139]
N = 48 M 33.0 (11.0) - - -
N = 44 F 27.0 (11.3) - - -
Karachi
(24.8° N)
Total N = 123 Urban adults, age 32.7 (8.7) years, hospital staff 16.44 (3.84) 69.9 21.1 8.9 Mansoor
2010 [140]
N = 53 F 14.88 (9.2) - - -
N = 70 M 17.64 (3.88) - - -
Karachi
(24.8° N) N = 305
Urban adults, F, low, middle and high income
groups equally represented,
age 31.97 (8.00) years
8.70 (8.64) 90.5 5.2 4.3 Khan
2012 [141]
Karachi
(24.8° N)
N = 50
Pregnant women, age 28.16 (4.4) years, low and
middle income group
24.1 (11.70) 46 32 22 Karim
2011 [142]
N = 50 Cord blood/neonates 20.4 (10.99) - - -
Karachi
(24.8° N)
N = 75
Pregnant women at term, age 26 (6.5) years, low
income group
Preterm 16.89 (7.83)
Term 13.19 (6.74)
72 17 11
Hossain
2011 [143]
N = 75 Cord blood/neonates
Preterm 21.91 (9.73)
Term 15.81 (9.56)
72 17 11
Karachi
(24.8° N)
N = 62 Exclusively breastfed Infants 13.83 (10.62) - - - Atiq
1998 [144]
N = 62 Mothers 12.8 (8.98) - - -
N = 37
High income
Breastfed infants, age 6 weeks–11 months 8.98 (6.56) - - -
Mothers, housewives, mostly indoors 10.6 (9.64) - - -
N = 25
Low income
Breastfed infants, age 6 weeks–11 months 20.93 (15.7) - - -
Mothers, working 15.90 (6.03) - - -
Nutrients 2014, 6 763
Table 6. Cont.
Locale Study Subjects
25(OH)D (ng/mL)
Mean (SD)
Vitamin D Status
Reference
%
Deficient
%
Insufficient
%
Sufficient
BANGLADESH
Dhaka
(23.7° N)
N = 99
Adults, F, low income level, age 16–40 years,
88% housewives
Median 14.68
(range 10–48)
- - -
Islam
2002 [145]
N = 90
Adults, F, high income level, age 16–40 years,
76% housewives
Median 17.4
(range 10–48)
- - -
Dhaka
(23.7° N)
N = 36
Adults, F, high income level, age 22.3 (1.9) years,
unveiled
12.12 (9.04) - - -
Islam
2006 [146]
N = 30
Adults, F, medium income level, age 47.7 ( 9.4)
years, veiled/purdah
12.4 (4.4) - - -
Dhaka
(23.7° N)
N = 200
Adults, F, urban factory workers, low income
group, age 22.6 (3.7) years
14.68 (4.48) 88.5 - -
Islam
2008 [147]
Sylhet
(24.9° N)
N = 29
Infants, age 71 (32) days, 25 M, 4 F, rural, low
income group
14.68 (6.84) - - -
Roth
2010 [148]
Matlab
(23.3° N)
N = 98
Cord blood, neonates of rural women/mothers,
age 25.8 (5.9) years
Median
23·8 (18·6–30·8)
- - -
Doi
2011 [149]
Dhaka (23.7°N)
N = 76
Pregnant women, 20 weeks of gestation,
age 21.55 (4) years
24.86 (1.02) - - 34.21
Ullah
2013 [150]
NEPAL
Sarlahi
(26.5° N)
N = 1163
Rural F, pregnant, age 23.6 ± 6.0 years,
gestational age 10.9 (4.6) week.
20.44 (9.85) - - -
Jiang
2005 [151]
SRI LANKA
Kandy
(7.2° N)
N = 85 Adults, M, age 47.0 (8.3) years. 25.2 (9.12) 34·1 - -
Meyer
2008 [152]
N = 111 Adults, F, age 46.4 (7.8) years. 18.96 (6.32) 58·6 - -
Galle (6.2° N)
N = 122 Preschool children, M, age 45.93 (9.8) months 34.8 (13.4) - - -
Hettiarachchi
2012 [153]
N = 126 Preschool children, F, age 46.56 (8.5) months 32.62 (14.8) - - -
No pertinent reports were available from Myanmar and Bhutan.
Nutrients 2014, 6 764
Table 7. Vitamin D supplementation studies in ostensibly healthy subjects from other countries of the Indian subcontinent. All 25(OH)D
values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as
25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. D3 is cholecalciferol.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
% Deficient
PAKISTAN One report is included in Table 8
BANGLADESH
Dhaka
(23.7° N)
Pregnant women, age 22.4 (SD 3.5) years, 26–29 weeks of gestation, - - - -
Roth
2013 [154]
N = 80, Control group, placebo 17.6 (8.36) 66.25 15.36 (7.24) 79.3
N = 67, Cord blood/neonates of control group - - 15.6 (7.48) 80.5
N = 80, Study group, received 35,000 IU D3/week until delivery 18.16 (7.36) 62.5 53.76 (12.28) 0
N = 65, Cord blood/neonates of study group - - 41.12 (11.44) 4.6
No pertinent reports with information required were found from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan.
Table 8. Vitamin D supplementation studies reporting improved bone health post-intervention, in ostensibly healthy subjects from other
countries of the Indian subcontinent: All 25(OH)D values have been shown in ng/mL. To convert from nM to ng/mL, nM values were divided
by (2.5). Vitamin D deficiency is defined as 25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL, insufficiency as 20–29 ng/mL and sufficiency as 30 ng/mL. D3 is
cholecalciferol. Calcium amount mentioned is that of elemental calcium.
Locale Study Subjects and Supplementation Protocols
Vitamin D Status
Reference
Before After
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
25(OH)D
Mean (SD)
Bone Health Status
PAKISTAN
Lahore
(31.5° N)
N = 53, premenopausal women, age 41.3 (SD 8.2)
years. All subjects had anterior tibial tenderness (ATT).
Subjects received a total of 1,800,000 IU intramuscular
D3, in 3 doses of 600,000 IU each, on alternate days.
All subjects received 1.2 gm calcium/day for 3 months.
12.1 (17.5)
81.1% were vitamin D
deficient
51.9 (no SD)
Significant improvement in ATT was observed.
88.7% women attained vitamin D sufficiency
and 92.4% had normalization of PTH levels.
Change in ATT correlated with change in PTH,
but did not correlate with 25(OH)D levels.
Ali
2013 [155]
No pertinent reports with information required were available from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan.
Nutrients 2014, 6 765
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... Since there is considerable ethnic variability in the disease phenotype, role of Vitamin D on disease severity and outcome still remains uncertain in other populations. Vitamin D deficiency is widely prevalent in India [24,25]. Being easily available, vitamin D assessment could serve as a useful additional factor to guide therapy if it affects disease outcome in IgAN patients. ...
... There is lack of consensus regarding the 25(OH) vitamin D level used to define vitamin D deficiency and the optimal target levels for different health outcomes [26,27]. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is very high in India ranging from 70-100% in otherwise health populations using the standard definition of serum level of 25(OH)D < 20 ng/ ml [24,25]. In our study also 78(74.3%) ...
... There is significant variability in vitamin D levels across geographies, ethnic groups and also different sampling seasons(winter vs summer months) leading to lack of agreement on cut-offs used to define deficiency and optimal target levels for different health outcomes. The prevalence of vitamin D . 1 Kaplan-Meier renal survival estimates between patients with and without vitamin D deficiency deficiency is very high in India ranging from 70-100% in otherwise healthy populations using the standard definition of serum level of 25(OH)D < 20 ng/ml [24,25]. In our study also 78(74.3%) ...
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Background Vitamin D deficiency has been examined as a risk factor for severity and progression of kidney disease due to its immunomodulatory effects. There is paucity of data about its impact in IgA nephropathy (IgAN). Methods In a retrospective cohort study, 25 (OH) vitamin D assay was performed in bio-banked baseline serum samples collected during kidney biopsy of 105 adult patients with primary IgAN diagnosed between 2015 and 2019. A level of < 10 ng/mL was defined as Vitamin D deficiency. Results Mean age of patients was 34 ± 10.6 years, 69.5% were males. Mean baseline 25(OH) Vitamin D levels was 15.9 ± 11.9 ng/mL and 41(39%) patients had vitamin D deficiency. Serum albumin level was lower in vitamin D deficient patients compared to those who had higher vitamin D levels (3.7 ± 0.9 vs 4.1 ± 0.7 g/dl, p = 0.018)but there was no significant difference in baseline proteinuria and eGFR. Crescentic lesions were more frequent in vitamin D deficient group (19.5% vs 6.3%, p = 0.022). At median follow up of 21.5 months (6 – 56 months), there was no difference in remission (68.3% vs 65.6%, p = 0.777) and disease progression (12.5% vs 9.4%, p = 0.614) in those with and without Vitamin D deficiency respectively. On multivariate cox proportional hazard analysis, vitamin D deficiency was not a significant risk factor for renal survival (HR-1.79, 95% confidence interval:0.50–6.34, p = 0.368). Conclusion There was no association between vitamin D deficiency and disease profile as well as renal outcome in Indian patients with IgAN.
... Prevalence of vitamin D, B12 and folate deficiencies has also been reported to be quite high among Indians. As per estimates, 70-100 per cent of Indians have vitamin D deficiency 11 ; nearly 23 per cent of preschoolers, 28 per cent of school-aged children and 37 per cent of adolescents are folate deficient 6 ; and 16-77 per cent of general population and 43-74 per cent of pregnant women are vitamin B12 deficient 12 . In fact, Muthayya et al 13 in their study reported India to be one of the 20 countries, with the highest burden of multiple MNDs (others being 18 African countries and Afghanistan). ...
... Not all MNDs in India (such as vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin C) are being targeted by national programmes 5 . Vitamin D deficiency, despite scientific reports about its widespread prevalence in the country, was not being addressed until recently 11 . Since India is a tropical country and receives adequate sunlight, vitamin D deficiency was not widely recognized as a public health concern 11 . ...
... Vitamin D deficiency, despite scientific reports about its widespread prevalence in the country, was not being addressed until recently 11 . Since India is a tropical country and receives adequate sunlight, vitamin D deficiency was not widely recognized as a public health concern 11 . It was only in 2020 that the GoI proposed mandatory fortification of packaged milk and edible oil with vitamin D 52 . ...
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The silent epidemic of micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs) continues to be a major public health challenge in the developing world, including India. The prevalence of iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin A and folate deficiencies is alarmingly high worldwide. India is additionally facing a high prevalence of vitamin D and B12 deficiencies. To combat the hidden epidemic of MNDs, various governments around the world have mostly relied on supplementation or fortification-based interventions. India launched salt iodization programme in 1962 and vitamin A and iron-folate supplementation programmes in 1970. Yet, even after decades of these programmes, MNDs are still widespread in the country. Due to slow progress in alleviating the burden of most MNDs, the Government of India aims to scale up fortification-based intervention programmes. However, there are safety and effectiveness concerns with such approaches. Hence, overdependence on supplementation and fortification alone may be counterproductive. Instead, food based dietary diversification approach can be the way forward. In this article, we list the common MNDs in India, evaluate major policy interventions, discuss concerns pertaining to fortification and suggest the need for a concurrent food-based approach, in particular dietary diversification, as a longterm and sustainable strategy to address population-based MNDs.
... Calpains, the calcium-dependent protease may have a role in the regulation of myogenesis and muscle dysfunction, thus, could explain the link between calcium and sarcopenia [131]. There is evidence of 34% to even 100% vitamin D deficiency among the general Indian population in various age groups [132] and 40.6% prevalence of dietary calcium deficiency during critical growth periods [133]. Therefore, given the inherent low muscle strength observed among Indians as well as the high apparent prevalence of vitamin D and calcium deficiency, this relationship of vitamin D and calcium with muscle needs to be studied extensively in this population. ...
... In the interim, screening and correction of individuals at risk of sarcopenia for underlying nutritional deficiencies is advisable to allow for the effective utilization of protein or amino acid supplementation. This seems extremely important for the Indian population where deficiency of multiple micronutrients including iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin D is widely prevalent across the age strata [132,149,150]. Even among the elderly Indians, the prevalence of anemia has been found to be about 32% between the ages of 60e65 years; this has been observed to double after 75 years of age [151]. ...
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Sarcopenia, characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength, is common in advanced old age but can be accelerated by chronic disease, malnutrition and physical inactivity. Early initiation of intervention to achieve and maintain a higher peak muscle mass and strength may allow for prevention or delay of sarcopenia and facilitate independent living even in old age. In this context, malnutrition, a significant contributor to sarcopenia, is often overlooked among the Indian population. Maintenance of an optimal energy and protein balance with adequate physical activity level is essential to preserve physical function in the aging population. However, research on the role of micronutrients in muscle maintenance, is still in its infancy. This narrative review, therefore, aims to explore the current status of International and Indian research on the role of nutrition in sarcopenia mitigation and the way forward.
... worked in the morning, 6(11.1%) in the evening, and 3 (5.6%) at night. These findings were in accordance with Compher et al. 13 , Daly et al. 14 , and Gupta 15 . Shift workers and indoor workers are the occupational groups most likely to suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D 16 . ...
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Background: Vitamin D has received considerable interest from the medical community and the public because of recent evidence for the nonskeletal effects of vitamin D combined with the finding of widespread global deficiency. It has been estimated that almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. In addition, neurobiological and neuroendocrinological substrates have been identified that indicate a link between hypovitaminosis D and several psychiatric conditions, including depression. Objectives: This study aimed to assess vitamin D level in patients with depressive disorders and to compare it with normal individuals. Materials & Methods: This cross-sectional type of comparative study was carried out in the Department of Physiology, Rajshahi Medical College, Rajshahi, in collaboration with the outpatient department of Psychiatry Rajshahi Medical College Hospital over 12 months from January 2019 to December 2019 among the Depressive patients and healthy individuals to find out and compare the vitamin D level between the two groups. Approval from the Ethical Review Committee (ERC) was obtained before the commencement of the study. A pA pre-designed, validated, structured questionnaire was used to gather information from 108 respondents by purposive sampling. Out of the 54 were newly diagnosed depressive patients, and 54 were healthy persons. In addition, a blood sample was collected to measure 25(OH)D level, and all values were analyzed statistically. Results: The Result showed a significant difference in mean plasma 25(OH)D level between the patients with depressive disorder and the healthy individuals. Circulating 25(OH)D level was found to be significantly low in the group of patients with depression. Conclusion: The present study demonstrated a significant correlation between hypovitaminosis D in patients with depressive disorders. It is suggested that possible factors such as hypovitaminosis D should be done as a routine investigation to reduce the incidence of depression. Furthermore, vitamin D supplementation might be a complementary treatment for depression. TAJ 2022; 35: No-2: 159-168
... Metabolic syndrome (MS) and vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is highly prevalent in India and in the world. 1,2 Currently 20-25% of world's adult population is suffering from MS. 1 Globally it is estimated that nearly 1 billion people have either VDD or vitamin D insufficiency. 3 Prevalence of MS and VDD in general population is more in India than western countries. 4 In diabetic patients prevalence of each disorder is higher than in the nondiabetic population. ...
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INTRODUCTION Metabolic syndrome (MS) and vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is highly prevalent in India and in the world. 1,2 Currently 20-25% of world's adult population is suffering from MS. 1 Globally it is estimated that nearly 1 billion people have either VDD or vitamin D insufficiency. 3 Prevalence of MS and VDD in general population is more in India than western countries. 4 In diabetic patients prevalence of each disorder is higher than in the nondiabetic population. 5 MS and VDD both are linked with increased chance of development of diabetes mellitus (DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). 6,7 Relevance of both in recent time has been increased because of rise in obesity and faulty life style. Obesity and overweight are a risk factor for both, MS and VDD. Prevalence of DM is increasing and so is morbidity and mortality related to DM. So, there is a need for innovative approach for management of DM. Diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency can be one such approach because in pathogenesis of MS, DM and CVD, VDD has been implicated and if we control VDD than we can control blood glucose effectively and prevent development of CVD. MS is defined as clustering of cardio-metabolic risk factors namely; central obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, atherogenic lipid profile, low grade inflammation and prothrombotic state. 7 In general MS is associated with 2-3-fold increase risk of atherosclerotic CVD and 5-fold increased risk for incident type-2 diabetes mellitus. Gami et al. in a meta-analysis, found that the overall relative risk for incident of death and CVD events for individual with MS was 1.78(95% CI, 1.58-2.00). 8 A metanalysis by Ford et al. found that relative risk (RR) of 3.5-5.2 for incident diabetes with any MS criteria. 9 Other condition associated with MS are fatty liver, sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian disease, hypogonadism, lipodystrophy and microvascular disease. 7 Recently role of VDD has been implicated in the pathogenesis of CVD, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia. 10-12 Aus-Diab study proved that VDD was associated with an increased risk of developing DM and MS at a 5 year follow up. 13 Nurse Health Study by Pittas et al. also found that VDD is a predisposing factor for developing DM. 14 Vitamin D act directly by stimulating the expression of insulin receptors and amplifying the glucose transport. Elevated PTH as a consequence of VDD has been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity and to inhibit insulin synthesis and secretion from β-cells. 15,16 Various cross-sectional data have reported that VDD is associated with more ABSTRACT Introduction: Prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MS) is remarkably variable in India. There is lack of data with regard to prevalence and predictors of MS and vitamin D deficiency (VDD) from eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. We designed this study in order to know the prevalence and predictors of MS and it's association with VDD from this area. Materials and Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted at Varanasi. Data was collected from newly onset diabetic patients over a period of one year. Results: Among 309 diabetic patients, 71.84%, 73.79%, 77.02% and 83.17% were found to have MS by different criteria. Central obesity was the highest predictor of MS. This is followed by raised triglyceride, low high density lipoprotein cholesterol and hypertension. VDD was found in 59.09% and 70.21% of male and female patients respectively. VDD was more prevalent in MS patients. Conclusion: Prevalence of MS is very high in newly onset diabetic patients and it is strongly associated with VDD. Hence routine screening of MS and VDD in newly onset diabetic patients is essential for early diagnosis and treatment of both conditions to prevent the cardiovascular disease.
... Several researchers have highlighted the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency throughout the human population irrespective of age, gender, and ethnicity (A. Gupta, 2014b;Holick, 2007;Jin, 2021;Mendes et al., 2020;Palacios & Gonzalez, 2014;Prentice, 2008;Sizar et al., 2021;Stoffers et al., 2022;C. Yang et al., 2021). ...
Article
Over the past few decades, vitamin D deficiency has been recognized as a serious global public health challenge. The World Health Organization has recommended fortification of foods with vitamin D, but this is often challenging because of its low water solubility, poor chemical stability, and low bioavailability. Studies have shown that these challenges can be overcome by encapsulating vitamin D within well‐designed delivery systems containing nanoscale or microscale particles. The characteristics of these particles, such as their composition, size, structure, interfacial properties, and charge, can be controlled to attain desired functionality for specific applications. Recently, there has been great interest in the design, production, and application of vitamin‐D loaded delivery systems. Many of the delivery systems reported in the literature are unsuitable for widespread application due to the complexity and high costs of the processing operations required to fabricate them, or because they are incompatible with food matrices. In this article, the concept of “Fortification by Design” is introduced, which involves a systematic approach to the design, production, and testing of colloidal delivery systems for the encapsulation and fortification of oil‐soluble vitamins, using vitamin D as a model. Initially, the challenges associated with the incorporation of vitamin D into foods and beverages are reviewed. The Fortification by Design concept is then described, which involves several steps: (i) selection of appropriate vitamin D form; (ii) selection of appropriate food matrix; (iii) identification of appropriate delivery system; (iv) identification of appropriate production method; (vii) establishment of appropriate testing procedures; and (viii) system optimization. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved