Vitamin D deficiency a serious nutritional problem: health official 

December 18, 2018

TEHRAN — In Iran, and even globally, vitamin D deficiency is a serious nutritional problem, director of the Health Ministry’s nutrition office, Zahra Abdollahi, said on Sunday. 

According to World Health Organization (WHO) vitamin D is active in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus which supports cellular processes, bone mineralization and neuromuscular function. 

Evidence has shown that adequate levels of vitamin D may prevent multiple bone disorders such as rickets in children; and osteoporosis in adults. Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be a widespread public health problem globally; being more prevalent in places with limited sun exposure.

“Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, increase the chances of getting asthma and allergies, as well as non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, Colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer and  some autoimmune diseases such as Multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis,” Abdollahi warned. 

Non-communicable diseases are the leading causes of 76 percent of the deaths in the country and in order to reduce the negative effects of such diseases addressing vitamin D deficiency should also be high on agenda, IRNA news agency quoted her as saying.

Vitamin D deficiency is traceable in different age groups and it should be addressed right away, she highlighted.

The health official went on to say that currently vitamin D-fortified breads are available in bakeries and also the vitamin D supplements are being distributed at high schools. 

Based on the studies on vitamin D deficiency conducted in 2001 to 2012 the prevalence of insufficiency among children aging 15 to 23 months was 24 percent, she explained.  

Moreover, in the same studies it was revealed that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women increased from 55 percent in 2001 to 86 percent in 2012, she highlighted.

She went on to say that in the year 2012 vitamin D deficiency prevalence among children aged 6 was 62 percent and among adolescents aged 14 to 20 it was 76 percent. 

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 63 percent among people aged 45 to 60, she stated. 

Currently the first phase of a pilot program for fortifying wheat flour with vitamin D in south Khorasan is underway and using the results of the program a nationwide program will be devised and carried out to tackle the deficiency in the country, she remarked. 

WebMd explains that vitamin D which is also as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods -- including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks -- and in fortified dairy and grain products.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. Traditionally, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with rickets, but increasingly, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.

Bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, and even cancer. 

MQ/MG

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