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Majority of Indian doctors are vitamin D deficient: Dr. Sanjay Kalra

Recent studies reveal that about 69% of Indians are deficient in vitamin D, and another 15% are insufficient.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : July 1, 2016 9:55 AM IST

Recent studies reveal that about 69% of Indians are deficient in vitamin D, and another 15% are insufficient. People today lead a very fast-paced, stressful, and unhealthy life. With long working hours, they have little or zero time for outdoor activities, which is one of the major reasons for the lack of Vitamin D in the body. This holds true for the medical fraternity too. A recent study, of which Dr. Sanjay Kalra was the key investigator, confirmed the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency all across India in apparently healthy, middle-aged, healthcare professionals. In the cross-sectional, multicenter study, 2,119 medical and paramedical personnel from 18 Indian cities were enrolled. Subjects included were physicians and health care professionals attending educational programs in endocrinology. The blood samples were collected between December 2010 and March 2011 and analysed in a central laboratory through radioimmunoassay. It was found that 79% percent of the studied subjects were deficient in Vitamin D, 15% were insufficient, and only 6 % had sufficient levels of this vitamin. (Read: 6 signs you have vitamin D deficiency)

Raising awareness, Dr Sanjay Kalra Consultant Endocrinologist, Bharti Hospital Karnal& Vice President, South Asian Federation of Endocrine Societies said, 'The Indian subcontinent is situated between 8.4 N and 37.6 N latitude and it gets adequate sunshine throughout the year. Despite this, studies have shown widespread prevalence of hypovitaminosis D. It is an irony that there is Sunshine vitamin deficiency in the Land of Surya Namaskar. Healthcare professionals nowadays usually work within the four walls of a hospital. There is little or no scope for exposure to sunlight and thus, majority of them are found to be Vitamin D deficient. It is very important for healthcare professionals to be aware of their vitamin D status. They will then be more likely to actively screen their patients for vitamin D deficiency. On Doctors Day, emphasis should be laid on the urgent need for an integrated approach to detect and treat vitamin D deficiency among healthcare professionals to improve on-the-job productivity. One such approach could be assessment of vitamin D status of all the hospital employees and its appropriate treatment at the time of employment and subsequently on a regular basis. (Read: More sunlight and dairy will not help Indians with Vitamin D deficiency)

Lack of Vitamin D poses a lot of serious health problems apart from affecting the bones in a major way. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D. When the human body is exposed to sunlight, it can make this vitamin on its own. Apart from being good for the bones, it also has an important role to play in the functioning of muscles, brain, lungs, and heart as also in increasing immunity. 'It is not very difficult to overcome this deficiency provided certain measures are taken. It is good to get about 30 minutes of daily sun exposure (without sunscreen) in the morning to help the body process this vitamin. Surya Namaskar may help correct Vitamin D deficiency by providing exposure to sunlight. Salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna are fatty fish that are good sources of Vitamin D. Apart from this fish oils, egg yolks, fortified milk and other fortified foods such as cereals are also good sources,' added Dr. Sanjay Kalra. It is true that staying out in the sun for too long can be harmful for the skin. However, certain amount of sunlight is required by the body to process this absolutely essential vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency can be easily identified with a blood test. Sufficient quantities of this vitamin help in reducing bad cholesterol and in increasing good cholesterol. A lack of it, on the other hand, leads to weaker bones, which can further make a person susceptible to fractures. (Read: Vitamin D deficiency can cause prostate cancer)

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