Body ache, muscle soreness, hair loss: New study reveals vitamin D deficiency among women is highest in Kashmir

    Srinagar: Shaista, 34-year-old-expecting mother reported to Lal Ded Hospital, Srinagar last week with an excruciating body ache and pain in her calves.

    Her test reports showed that her vitamin D blood test levels had dropped to 4 ng/ml against the standard 25 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).

    “She kept on saying that her legs are failing her. The symptoms of vitamin D insufficiency can be ambiguous, making it difficult for patients to explain. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigability, bone pains, muscle pains, muscle soreness, hair loss, and poor wound healing,” the gynecologist treating her said.

    Vitamin D is one of many vitamins your body needs to stay healthy. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of calcium in your blood and bones and in building and maintaining bones.

    More specifically, you need vitamin D so your body can use calcium and phosphorus to build bones and support healthy tissues.

    A 2022 study titled, `Assessment of Vitamin D Status in General Population of Kashmir Valley of Indian Subcontinent’ was published in Healthline Journal.

    The study was aimed to assess the Vitamin D status in the general population of Kashmir by measuring serum 25-hydroxyvitamin [25(OH)D] levels. A total of 270 healthy volunteers from differing professions (69 men and 201 non-pregnant/non-lactating women, aged (18–65 years), residing in the valley were selected for this study.

    The findings revealed that vitamin D deficiency is very high in the valley, especially among women.

    “222 (82.2%) of the subjects studied had Vitamin D deficiency. 45 of the 69 males and 177 of the 201 females were found to be Vitamin D deficient,” the research paper said.

    According to the study, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency ranged from 58% in the farmers’ group to 93% in the employee group. “Further, vitamin D deficient subjects had a significantly lower mean weekly exposure to sunlight.”

    Professor of Surgery, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Dr. Iqbal Saleem told The Kashmir Monitor that despite the high amount of sunlight available in the valley, the patients report mild to moderate deficiency of vitamin D.

    “This is because from October to March, the available sunlight which we have in our valley is less as compared to what is required,” he said.

    He noted that in Kashmiri females, the overt vitamin D deficiency is less pronounced but mild to moderate deficiencies do occur. This can be attributed to poor dietary practices and less exposure to the sun.

    Dr. Saleem said the complications depend upon the severity of the deficiency. “If the patient has a severe one, his bones will be brittle. He will have a condition called osteoporosis in which the bones break easily and can get susceptible to fractures. Such patients also report symptoms of dizziness, lethargy, and less appetite.”

    He said people should take an adequate amount of dairy products as they contain a good amount of vitamin D along with fruits and vegetables. “Women especially in winter should take vitamin D sachets for six to eight weeks (once every week). These sachets contain 60,000 units which are sufficient to cover deficiencies in females found to have mild to moderate to severe deficiency. The treatment will be based on the amount of vitamin D present in the serum that can be found by the laboratory test,” Dr. Saleem said.

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