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Vitamin-D and Health

Vitamin-D talk radio mirchi

Dr. Gururaja Rao on Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM

Vitamin-D and Health


What is Vitamin-D and how is it important for our health?

Vitamin-D is an essential vitamin which helps in maintaining our health. It helps in absorption of calcium on our food and deposition of calcium in our bones. Thus it revitalizes our bones making it stronger. Similarly it takes part in numerous other activities in the body e.g. maintaining immunity, functioning of blood vessels and heart, maintaining muscle strength etc. It also helps in brain development.

In persons with deficiency of Vitamin-D there can be increased risk of pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure. Some reports suggest increase chances of having autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis. Also the bones can get weak, a condition known as osteoporosis. Severe deficiency can lead to osteomalacia. Vitamin-D deficient persons also have been shown to have a higher prevalence of cancers.

What are the common causes for Vitamin-D deficiency?


Sunlight - The main source of Vitamin-D

Vitamin-D is aptly called sunshine vitamin. It is mainly produced in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. The UV-B (Ultraviolet) rays which fall on the skin produce vitamin-D. It is difficult to obtain enough amounts of vitamin-D from our diet.

If you expose your face and upper arm to sunlight for around 20 minutes between 10 AM and 3 PM, without using any sunscreen you can get enough vitamin-D. However most of us stay indoors, either at office or schools/colleges during this time.

Now-a-days due to pollution also makes it difficult to obtain enough vitamin-D.


As we all know Vitamin-D deficiency causes osteoporosis or rickets. However there are recent reports that  Vitamin-D deficiency is seen more commonly among diabetics. Is this true? If so how far does it affect diabetes or its treatment?

Yes, as per few studies vitamin-D deficiency is very common not only in diabetics but all Indians. As per one estimate nearly 50% of Indians have vitamin-D deficiency. vitamin-D deficiency causes to increased insulin resistance leading to metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Similarly in patients already suffering from diabetes vitamin-D deficiency can make controlling blood sugars difficult. Heart and kidney problems may be more frequently seen. In children with Vitamin-D deficiency Type-1 diabetes is more commonly seen.

What are the benefits of giving Vitamin-D supplements to diabetic patient?

By treating vitamin-D deficiency in the population we can possibly reduce the prevalence of diabetes. In patients suffering from diabetes vitamin-D supplements may help the diabetic medicines to work better and control sugars better.

Osteoporosis and pathological fractures (fractures with low or no trauma) are a common problem in diabetics and vitamin-D supplement can reduce the same. Similarly we believe that if we correct vitamin-D deficiency among diabetics it may lead to fewer kidney, eye and heart problems. But more research is needed to confirm this.

How do you advice your patients to restore vitamin-D?

Responsible sun exposure without sunscreens, Use milk and dairy products. Use of Vitamin-D supplements in those with high risk for deficiency  like: elderly, women after menopause, those with autoimmune diseases and arthritis etc. They are advised to take calcium and vitamin-D supplements. These can be in the form of calcium tablets, vitamin-D powder (cholecalciferol) and or injections.

Health tip for public..

Love sunshine, moderate sunscreen! Eat healthy food, exercise regularly. And patients with diabetes, consult your doctor about vitamin-D..


This article is a selected translation [Kannada to English] of Dr. Gururaja Rao's talk on Vitamin-D in Radio Mirchi Mangalore aired on 12-Jan-2014)