'17 of every 20 people in 20-40 age group have vitamin deficiency'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 03, 2014 18:16 IST

Vitamin deficiency caused by deprivation of sunlight and faulty eating habits could be the reason behind chronic exhaustion, anxiety and mood swings. A three-year-long study has revealed that 17 out of every 20 men and women in the age group of 20-40 years suffer from deficiency of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and B9 (folic acid).

The study, conducted by the Metropolis Healthcare Limited chain of laboratories, looked at close to 75,000 samples of women in the age group of 20-40 years and found that nearly 83% suffered from vitamin D deficiency; almost 85% of nearly 30,000 samples from men were found to have vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, helping the body absorb calcium from the diet. While it is known that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, also known as sunshine vitamin, its deficiency, experts said, is common and Indians are more prone, given their skin colour.

“Our darker skin colour means we have high levels of the pigment melanin which acts as a natural sunscreen, preventing absorption of the vitamin,” said Dr Kiran Coelho, a gynaecologist.

The study also revealed an alarming trend in deficiency of vitamins B12 and B9. It was found that of all the samples with vitamin B9 deficiency, 66% were women and the rest were men. Vitamin B9, B12 and other B vitamins play an important role in producing DNA, red blood cells and brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.

“The lack of Vitamin D and B12 is known as dual deficiency. And women, especially those in the reproductive age, are prone to dual deficiency for a multitude of reason. Childbirth and lactation are some of the key reasons,” said Dr Coelho.

Experts said deficiency of vitamins D and B12 are also directly linked to mood swings, feelings of sadness and crying bouts.

“Deficiency of vitamin D is one of the contributing factors to depression while vitamin B 12 is an enzyme of the nervous system with direct implications on psychological health,” said Dr Harish Shetty, psychiatrist.

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