Be cautious before taking Vit-D supplements

ST Correspondent
Saturday, 13 January 2018

“Supplements are prescribed when a sharp drop in the vitamin levels is seen. To gain them back to normalcy, supplements work fine. But solely relying on them is a problem that needs to be addressed."

PUNE: City doctors have warned that taking Vitamin D supplements especially paired with calcium beyond a certain dosage can increase the side effects. Vitamin D and calcium supplements may have only limited efficacy in preventing the weakening of bones.

In a recent study conducted in a rural region of Maharashtra, over 65 per cent of people were found Vitamin D deficient. As vitamin D is directly received from sunlight, the numbers are expected to be higher in cities with confined urban lifestyle.

Dr Kiran Kharat, Consultant- Orthopaedics from Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune, said that patients usually do not consult doctors before taking vitamin supplements as part of their regular diet. Also, many times, they assume that supplements are healthy and continue taking them post prescription.

“Supplements are prescribed when a sharp drop in the vitamin levels is seen. To gain them back to normalcy, supplements work fine. But solely relying on them is a problem that needs to be addressed. Medication provides an additional push to prevent an ailment from occurring but they do not guarantee fool-proof prevention against the disease. If the vitamin dosage is higher than 1,000 IUs, there are increased chances of serious side effects, particularly in combination with calcium. Vitamin supplements are also taken to rejuvenate the skin. But this does not provide a long-term solution,” said Kharat.

Recently, the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) has claimed that reports from various parts of India highlight vitamin D deficiency in all age groups from neonates to adolescents as well as pregnant and lactating mothers to the tune of 30 per cent to 90 per cent.

The IAP paper on 'Prevention and Treatment of Vitamin D and Calcium Deficiency in Children and Adolescents' states that vitamin D deficiency with or without calcium deficiency may result in rickets in an infant or adolescent or osteomalacia (abnormal mineralisation of bone matrix) and muscle weakness in an older child or adolescent.

Dr Anuradha Khadilkar, who is one of the authors of the paper presented by IAP, said, "Vitamin D and calcium are both critical for musculoskeletal health in growing years and addressing this deficiency in paediatric and adolescent population is very important."

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Dinesh Lalwani, another city-based doctor, said that the approach to ensure the fight against vitamin and calcium deficiency can reduce dependency on supplements.

“The first part is to increase exposure to morning sunlight when the sun rays are not harmful and outdoor physical activity. The second aspect included maintaining the levels of vitamin D. As a part of diet management, consumption of nutrient rich foods, including calcium, protein, magnesium, and importantly vitamin D, is mandatory. Pulses, beans nonfat milk, curd, broccoli, cauliflower, dry fruits and leafy vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and can help maintain the level,” said Lalwani.

- Vitamin D is a nutrient important for maintaining bone density.
- It helps the intestines to absorb calcium.
- Especially in elderly and women at post-menopausal stage, deficiency of vitamin D and calcium is the root cause of the weakness of bones, making them fragile as people grow old.
- In nutrition deficient sections of society the onset of diseases such as osteoporosis is much earlier.

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