National medical associations to focus on Vitamin D deficiency and its prevention

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Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in India. The reasons for this widespread deficiency include a predominantly vegetarian diet, sedentary lifestyle characterized by long hours spent in indoor spaces, sun-shy behavior of individuals and over-dependence on technology as modes of recreation and entertainment. Majority of the population remains unaware that it is in fact Vitamin D deficiency which is the cause of their vague aches and pains and long-term deterioration of over-all health and well-being.

Seeing the current scenario, the WMA urged National medical associations to support continued research and education on the topic of vitamin D insufficiency during its recent General Assembly. The leaders were of the opinion that vitamin D deficiency is not a country-centric issue, but has global significance given a series of studies that show that deficiency of vitamin D deficiency can also be linked to impaired growth and development of diseases such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, cancer, among several others.

Adopting preventive actions in high-risk populations at risk may help to control the rising prevalence of vitamin D deficiency that should include large scale awareness campaigns of both doctors and patients. These preventive actions are particularly important in high risk groups – young children, the elderly and pregnant women. In many cases, sun exposure is generally not recommended because it can increase the risk of skin cancer.

World Medical Association recommends the following for all national medical associations:

• Support continued research in vitamin D and its metabolites

• Invest in educating physicians about innovations in vitamin D and its impact on an individual’s health

• Encourage physicians to consider measuring the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in patients at risk of vitamin D deficiency

• Monitor development of dietary recommendations for vitamin D