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The Growing Vitamin D Deficiency among Women in India

Vitamin D is popularly called the "sunshine vitamin," as the main source is the sun itself. Even though the Indian subcontinent receives plenty of sunlight, most of the population has a vitamin D deficiency, especially women. Read more about it.

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Rajnandini Tiwari
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Photo taken from unsplash stock images

Photo taken from Unsplash Stock Images

Vitamin D is popularly called the "sunshine vitamin," as the main source is the sun itself. Even though the Indian subcontinent receives plenty of sunlight, most of the population has a vitamin D deficiency, especially women. In January 2023, the TATA group’s 1mg labs found that about 3 out of every 4 Indians lack Vitamin D, despite being crucial for various bodily functions, particularly bone health and immune system regulation. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and remedies for this deficiency is essential for maintaining optimal health.

Possible Causes

1. Limited Sun Exposure: The most common source of Vitamin D is Sunlight. Women who spend most of their time indoors, frequently use sun protection, or live in places with less sun exposure, such as high-altitude landscapes and hills, are at higher risk of deficiency.

2. Skin Pigmentation: Skin pigmentation by melanin decreases the skin’s Vitamin D production when exposed to direct sun. Thus women with darker skin need more sun exposure compared to women with lighter skin to produce sufficient vitamin D levels.

3. Dietary Restrictions: Very few foods are rich in Vitamin D. Women following strict vegetarian or vegan diets, or those who do not consume fatty fish or fortified foods, usually have low Vitamin D levels. 

4. Health Conditions: Conditions such as obesity, celiac disease, and Crohn's are some of the issues that hamper the absorption and metabolism of vitamin D in our body hence leading to deficiency of the vitamin.

5. Aging: As women age, their skin's ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases, and their kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D to its active form, thus they have low levels of Vitamin D.

Symptoms and Health Implications

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Vitamin D deficiency is rather concealed, and patients often do not notice the signs that indicate the presence of the problem. Common symptoms may include:

1. Bone Pain and Muscle Weakness: Studies highlight that Vitamin D is essential for developing strong bones. Deficiency of the same can result in rather serious conditions like Osteomalacia, which is the softening of the bones, and Osteoporosis, which is decreasing bone density, either of which can lead to a higher risk of fractures. 

2. Fatigue and General Weakness: Regular fatigue and a sense of general unwellness can be accompanied by low vitamin D levels.

3. Mood Changes: This nutrient is an important factor in keeping your brain healthy. It has been found that a deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with mood disorders such as depression and SAD, i.e. seasonal affective disorder.

4. Immunity Dysfunction: A deficiency of Vitamin D can hinder the immune system’s health thus making women prone to infections and viruses. 

Photo taken from istock images
Photo taken from iStock images

Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency

  1. Sun Exposure: Safe sun exposure is the best possible way to boost vitamin D levels. Regularly spending 10-30 minutes in morning sunlight can significantly increase vitamin D synthesis in our skin. Apart from sunlight, there are numerous natural ways to improve Vitamin D levels.

    However, this should essentially be balanced with skin cancer prevention measures. 

    2. Dietary Sources: Incorporating foods rich in vitamin D into the diet is very important. Including Fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna), egg yolks, and fortified foods (such as milk, orange juice, and cereals) in your daily meals can have good results. 

    3. Supplements: Vitamin D supplements can be an effective way to address deficiency, especially in women who have limited sun exposure or have a vegan or vegetarian diet. Gytree’s Total Strength and Support Mango Protein Powder with Vitamin D3 can be used to fulfill your daily Vitamin D levels. The recommended dosage varies depending on age, health status, and existing vitamin D levels, so it's advisable to consult our Gytree experts for personalized recommendations.

    4. Regular Screening: Vitamin D levels should be checked once every 6 months. This can help identify deficiency at early stages and prevent associated conditions. This is particularly important for women who have limited sun exposure, certain medical conditions, or during pregnancy.

Vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent issue among women, with significant implications. The number of women with Vitamin D deficiency in India is increasing and is going unnoticed. By understanding our body’s demand for vitamins and taking care of the overall balance of nutrients, one can ensure a healthier life and well-being. Gytree's 6 months Nutrition Program can help you master the nutrient balance.

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Photo taken from iStock images
Importance of vitamin D vitamin d sunshine vitamin Vitamin deficiency
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