BENGALURU: You count your steps, do Suryanamaskar, have an early dinner and keep your BP and blood sugar levels under control. But what about your Vitamin D levels? People who spend long hours indoors, with inadequate exposure to sunlight, can be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
City doctors say Vitamin D deficiency is widespread among Bengalureans. “It is prevalent in almost everyone we check,” said Dr Pramod V Satya, consultant-internal medicine, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru.
Geethika, 13, from Vijaya Bank Colony was indoors most of the time during the pandemic. She would often complain of knee pain, and her mother Rashi took her to a doctor last year. A blood test followed and Geethika was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.
Rashi and her mother Madhu also got their Vitamin D levels checked. Both had been stuck at home during the lockdown and, like Geethika, had low levels of Vitamin D.
“Rashi’s was in single digits,” recalled Madhu.
The recommended level of Vitamin D for adults is between 30ng/mL and 40ng/mL. Sunlight is the most important source of the vitamin. In Bengaluru, people dread stepping out because of traffic issues. “A majority work from home these days and the others tend to reach their workplace earlier than 9am, before they are exposed to sunlight,” observed Dr Ravikumar Mukartihal, consultant orthopaedic at SPARSH hospital, Bengaluru.
Don’t ignore symptoms
Signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include knee pain, joint pain, fatigue, mood changes, and insomnia. “In older adults, it can be a predisposing factor for diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, bone diseases, reduced muscle mass, and muscular skeletal symptoms,” said Dr Satya.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism, explained Dr Mukartihal. “If there is excessive deficiency, it will lead to poor absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine and cause hypocalcemia, resulting in secondary hyperparathyroidism. Due to this, there can be accelerated bone demineralization (loss of bone content) which results in osteomalacia and osteoporosis both in adults and the elderly.” However, Vitamin D deficiency is often ignored and left untreated. Hospitals and labs that offer comprehensive health check-ups and tests at low prices do not include Vitamin D tests in their packages.
(Names of patients changed on request)