Emerging Vitamin D defiency in India
- It used to be a routine in India to massage infants and then give them a sunbath.
- But changing lifestyles over the years have almost put an end to this practice and children now spend most of their time indoors.
- This has led to the emergence of vitamin D deficiency as a major problem among infants.
Vitamin D synthesis
- Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin when the sun’s ultraviolet rays convert a molecule, 7-Dehydrocholesterol, on the skin into an inactive form of the vitamin.
- This enters the blood circulation and is converted to its active form in the liver and kidney.
- A study in New Delhi suggests an estimate for the minimum time infants need to be exposed to sunlight every day to acquire sufficient levels of vitamin D in their body.
- The study found that an exposure of as low as about 30 minutes per week with about 40% of the child’s body exposed to sunlight can help achieve adequate vitamin D status at six months of age.
- The study concluded that this small intervention can help improve levels of vitamin D in infants without the need for supplements or formula feed.
Need for Vitamin D
A matter of concern
- Several studies over the years have shown that more than 50% of the Indian population is vitamin D-deficient.
- This is a matter of concern especially for infants because vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, normal growth and development, and maintenance of bone health and hair follicles.
- Insufficient levels of the vitamin cause lethargy, irritability, and a predisposition towards infections.
- Extreme deficiency can causes rickets, which results in a malformation of the (leg) bones.
Section : Social Issues