Doctors say at least 80% of urban population suffers from deficiency of Vitamin D, vital for absorption of calcium. Its deficiency makes the body vulnerable to diseases such as cancer.
In 2013, 40 per cent of Indians were estimated to be Vitamin D deficient — half of the current estimates.
Experts say that a growing lack of exposure to sunlight and a mainly vegetarian diet has led to the current numbers in the urban population.
“Urban people use sunscreens to prevent tanning which limits the absorption of sun rays into the skin,” said Dr Sumita Saha, consultant paediatrician at Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata.
“Also, there is research in progress to understand if smog, caused by increased air pollution levels, is blocking the absorption.”
A survey by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), a trade lobby, conducted between October 2017 and March 2018, found that over half of the population in Delhi, one of the worst smog affected cities, is suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.
The survey found that those in the 21-35 age group had the maximum insufficiency, with a majority unaware of the deficiency in their bodies.
In contrast, according to research by Dr Mithal from Medanta, only 30 per cent of the rural population, mainly women, reported low Vitamin D levels.
“Rural people, especially men, are not found with the deficiency as they expose themselves to a lot of sunshine,” Dr Mithal said. “Rural women, however, have the deficiency because they are generally covered from head to toe and women generally have low calcium levels in the menopausal age.”
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