Vitamin D Deficiency In India: How To Address The Deficiency?



Published on: 08-Sep-2022


10 min read


Updated on : 02-Nov-2023




Tarishi Shrivastava


Vitamin D Deficiency In India: How To Address The Deficiency?

Vitamin D Deficiency In India: How To Address The Deficiency?

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Our food gives us numerous nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Out of all, although vitamins and minerals are required in fewer amounts by our body, they are still essential for our body functions. 

Vitamins are basically of 2 types: fat-soluble, like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and water-soluble, like vitamins B and C. Vitamin deficiencies are common among Indians. However, vitamin D deficiency is something that many are still not aware of. 

This blog will try and apprehend various aspects associated with Vitamin D deficiency.

Table Of Contents

1. What Is Vitamin D, And How Much Is It Required Daily?

2. What Is Vitamin D Deficiency?

3. Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency

4. Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency 

5. Treatment Of Vitamin D Deficiency 

6. Prevalence Of Vitamin D Deficiency In Indians 

7. Dietary Recommendations

8. The Final Say

9. FAQs

What Is Vitamin D, And How Much Is It Required Daily?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. Vitamin D enables your frame to soak up calcium. Calcium is one of the predominant constructing blocks of bones. Vitamin D also functions on your nerves, muscles, and immune systems. There are 3 ways through which you can receive vitamin D: 

  • Through your skin
  • Through your diet
  • From supplements

Your body can make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. But excessive solar exposure (UV rays) can cause pores, skin aging, and skin cancer. 

So many individuals try to get their vitamin D from different sources. The daily requirements of vitamin D rely upon your age. As per the International units (IU), the recommended amounts are- 

  • Birth to 12 months: 400 IU
  • Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
  • Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
  • Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 600 IU

What Is Vitamin D Deficiency? 

Vitamin D is a common deficiency that means your body lacks Vitamin D, causing problems in your bones and muscles. It mainly influences individuals over the age of sixty-five and those who have darker skin. However, it is preventable and treatable.

Vitamin D is essential for your body's functioning, bone development, and maintenance. In addition, vitamin D is necessary for your nervous, musculoskeletal, and immune systems.

The body produces it in response to pores, and the skin is exposed to sunlight, which is why it is called the sunshine vitamin. It is likewise present evidently in some foods, such as a few fish, fish liver oil, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.

Vitamin D is crucial for sturdy bones, as it facilitates the body by obtaining calcium from the diet.

Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been related to rickets, a disorder in which the bone tissue does not mineralise well, mainly causing bone weakness and skeletal deformities. However, studies reveal vitamin D's increasing significance in protecting against several health problems.

Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency 

Symptoms like bone aches and muscle weakness suggest you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for lots of people, the signs and symptoms are subtle. But even without signs and symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. A low level of vitamin D in the body causes several issues like-:

Vitamin D Deficiency In Kids Causes Rickets

  • Incorrect growth patterns due to bowed or bent bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bone ache
  • Deformities in joints

Children with moderate vitamin deficiency may also have weak, sore, and painful muscles.

Vitamin D Deficiency In Adults

  • Fatigue
  • Bone ache
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps
  • Mood changes & depression

Causes Of Vitamin D Deficiency

Numerous factors may be a reason for developing vitamin D deficiency, such as age and the amount of melanin(pigment) on your skin. But the most common reasons behind Vitamin D deficiencies are as follows:

  • You do not get sufficient vitamin D in your diet.
  • You do not absorb adequate vitamin D from food (a malabsorption problem).
  • Insufficient exposure to sunlight.
  • Your liver or kidneys can not convert vitamin D to its active form inside the body.
  • Some medicines affect your body's ability to transform or absorb vitamin D.

Treatment Of Vitamin D Deficiency

Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting extra vitamin D through your food and supplements. Although there is no consensus on vitamin D levels required for ideal health. They may differ depending on age and health conditions.

According to the guidelines given by the Institute of Medicine, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for everybody aged between 1-70, and 800 IU is for adults older than 70 to optimise bone health. The safe higher limit was also raised to 4,000 IU. Doctors can also prescribe more than 4,000 IU to treat a vitamin D deficiency.

Prevalence Of Vitamin D Deficiency In Indians

In India, commonly consumed foods such as dairy products are rarely fortified with vitamin D. Cultural and socio-religious practices do not allow for adequate sun exposure and negate the potential benefits of plentiful sunlight. Consequently, subclinical vitamin D deficiency is common in urban and rural settings and across all socioeconomic and geographic classes.

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the very high prevalence of rickets, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer & infections like tuberculosis in India.

You should consume food that a vitamin D. This is the most feasible way to fight vitamin D deficiency.

A 2019 Pan-Indian study found that 70 to 90% of Indians are deficient in the sun's vitamins. A deficiency can negatively affect skeletal development in infants and children and bone health in adults.

A diabetologist study states that vitamin D deficiency is commonly associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

The study found that 84.2% of patients with type II diabetes were vitamin D deficient, as were 82.6 % of patients with hypertension. In addition, he found no significant differences in deficiency levels between the North, South, East, or West regions, with each region reporting a deficiency prevalence of 88%, 90%, 93%, and 91%, respectively.

The pharmaceutical company Abbott facilitated the publicity of the study.

Pregnant women in India have a prevalence of vitamin D deficiency of up to 84%, which also correlates with the level of vitamin D deficiency in their newborns. 

Dietitians Recommendations 

Vitamin D deficiency is quite common. However, it can be easily cured with the help of some dietary changes and supplements. 

Some foods naturally rich in vitamin D are Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, Beef, Cheese, Mushrooms, liver, and Egg yolks. 

Some vitamin D-fortified foods include milk, breakfast cereals, orange juice, and other dairy products such as yogurt, soft drinks soy. 

Vitamin D is also found in many multivitamins; there are vitamin D supplements for babies, both in tablet and liquid form. Severe vitamin D deficiency is treated with dietary supplements. Therefore if you are suffering from vitamin D deficiency, you can either include some of the vitamin D-rich foods or take a supplement as advised by your doctor. 

The Final Say

Finally, to summarise, vitamin D is an essential vitamin that your body needs to be healthy. Therefore, try to include natural food sources of vitamin D in your diet or take vitamin D supplements. Also, take adequate sunlight to avoid the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

A healthy diet that includes foods fortified with vitamin D, taking vitamin D supplements, getting enough sun exposure, and regular blood tests, are all needed to reduce the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.


1. Are vitamin D injections safe?

A yearly dose of intramuscular cholecalciferol injection (600 000 IU) is an effective therapy for vitamin D deficiency. While this therapy appears safe, the potential for developing hypercalciuria must be examined in a large randomised controlled trial.

2. Why is vitamin D important during pregnancy?

It helps in absorbing the right amount of calcium and phosphate. It is essential in pregnancy as it helps your baby's bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop.

3. Can high levels of vitamin D be harmful?

Yes, getting too much vitamin D can also be harmful. If there are higher levels of vitamin D in your blood than 375 nmol/L or 150 ng/mL can result in

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion
  • Pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive urination and thirst
  • Kidney stones

4. Are vitamin D tablets helpful in psoriasis?

Vitamin D treatment is more effective for plaque-type psoriasis when applied to the skin. Oral vitamin D supplementation is effective as an adjuvant treatment option in psoriasis.

5. Where is vitamin D produced?

Vitamin D production in the skin under the influence of sunlight (UVB) is maximised at levels of sunlight exposure that do not burn the skin.

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