Modern India and the vitamin D dilemma: Evidence for the need of a national food fortification program.
Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 May 3. Epub ahead of print
Babu US, Calvo MS.
Office of Applied Research and Safety Assessment, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, Laurel, MD, USA.
India is located between 8.4 and 37.6 degrees N latitude with the majority of its population living in regions experiencing ample sunlight throughout the year. Historically, Indians obtained most of their vitamin D through adequate sun exposure; however, darker skin pigmentation and the changes which have accompanied India's modernization, including increased hours spent working indoors and pollution, limit sun exposure for many. Inadequate sun exposure results in reduced vitamin D synthesis and ultimately poor vitamin D status if not compensated by dietary intake. Dietary vitamin D intake is very low in India because of low consumption of vitamin D rich foods, absence of fortification and low use of supplements. All these factors contribute to poor vitamin D status as measured by low circulating levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D. Our review searches the published literature specific to India for evidence that would confirm the need to fortify food staples with vitamin D or stimulate public health policies for vitamin D supplementation and dietary guidelines tailored to the Indian diet.
This review documents findings of widespread vitamin D deficiency in Indian populations in higher and lower socioeconomic strata, in all age groups, in both genders and people in various professions. Moreover, poor vitamin D status in India is accompanied by increased bone disorders including osteoporosis, osteomalacia in adults and rickets and other bone deformities in children. Without a concerted national effort to screen for vitamin D status, to implement policies or guidelines for vitamin D fortification and/or supplementation and to re-assess recommended dietary intake guidelines, dramatic increase in the number of bone disorders and other diseases may lie ahead. PMID: 20440690