Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem for people of any age. According to many studies, Vitamin D deficiency is about 70% or higher in South Asia and as per a lab-based study, 86% of Dhaka’s population have Hypovitaminosis D.
World Vitamin D Day, celebrated on 2nd November, is a day to raise awareness about Vitamin D deficiency and highlight the need for people and families to take immediate action to ensure everyone has sufficient Vitamin D blood levels to reduce their risk of disease and achieve optimal overall health.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in the intestinal absorption of calcium and the regulation of calcium homeostasis, essential for bone formation, and maintenance of healthy bones. It also plays a protective role in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infection and COVID-19 infection, as it boosts immunity.
The importance of Vitamin D in medical science is immense and it is required to fight various chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, several autoimmune diseases, bowel disease, celiac disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and pancreatitis. It is especially important for breastfed infants, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, people with dark skin, and people who are obese.
Vitamin D can be obtained by sunlight, in foods like fatty fish, eggs, liver, butter, and dietary Vitamin D supplements.
Nowadays, diagnostic labs use different types of testing methods for analysis, and different immunoassay techniques give different values. So, according to The Royal College of Pathologists of Australia, it is advised to monitor serum Vitamin D levels following treatment in the same laboratory.
Vitamin D test results not only depend on the quality of aging of samples and the specificity, sensitivity, and robustness of the testing methods, the results may also vary from lab to lab and/or from time to time for the same parameters of a given patient.
So, check your Vitamin D level from a reliable lab and if you want to cross-check the lab result quality, you should compare it with another lab that has high standards, with sample collection done at the same time, using the same protocols, and sent to both labs.
Although a majority of patients with Vitamin D deficiency are asymptomatic, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a number of health concerns such as low bone density leading to osteoporosis and bone fractures, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, among others. Therefore, Vitamin D levels should be checked at least once a year as part of your health check. To avoid deficiency, you should include Vitamin D-rich food in your diet, such as oily fish and egg yolks, and get sun exposure 2-3 times per week between 10am and 3pm, to accelerate the natural Vitamin D formation.
Depending on your level of deficiency, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan.The goal of treating Vitamin D deficiency is to reach and maintain an adequate level of Vitamin D in your body. Aside from taking Vitamin D rich food and exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D supplements could be advised by your doctor. There are different ranges of Vitamin D supplements and although some can be bought over the counter, it is advised to check your Vitamin D levels with your doctor and then go with her/his recommendation on the dosage of supplements to take.