Findings from a survey conducted by a national laboratory chain revealed that 82.5% of the subjects have irregular levels of vitamin D — either too much or too little. Metropolis Healthcare Limited conducted the survey between January and December 2011 in Mumbai.
Vitamin D is primarily responsible for the absorption of calcium that is necessary for the growth of bones. The body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Of the 33,444 walk-in patients (comprising men, women and children) who were tested, 27,606 patients were found to have vitamin D deficiency, insufficiency, or toxicity (excess vitamin D).
The normal value for vitamin D is 30-100 nanograms per millilitre of blood. “Usually, these patients suffer from bone pain or fatigue. Some patients are detected with osteoporosis,” said Dr Deepak Sanghavi, consultant pathologist, clinical chemistry, Metropolis Healthcare Limited.
Doctors said that Indians are prone to Vitamin D deficiency. “Indian skin is rich in melanin, which prevents the skin from absorbing sunlight,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, consulting endocrinologist, Lilavati Hospital. Doctors said that a sedentary lifestyle, pollution and a vegetarian diet could hinder the body’s absorption of vitamin D.
Public hospitals in the city do not have the diagnostic facilities to test patients for a vitamin D deficiency. “As patients cannot afford tests, we usually treat them on clinical examination,” said Dr Amar Pazare, head of medicine, KEM Hospital, Parel.