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DSM highlights new publication showing that nearly three quarters of Indian population are vitamin D deficient

Kaiseraugst, CH, 18 Nov 2015 14:00 CET

DSM Nutritional Products has co-authored a new publication summarizing the vitamin D status of healthy Indian individuals across all age groups1. The objective of this study was to understand the extent of vitamin D deficiency status in India through a meta-analysis. Results concluded that although India benefits from a sunny climate, 75% of the adult population has a deficient (< 50 nm/L) vitamin D status which is significantly above the global average of 38%2.

Vitamin D is composed of a group of fat-soluble compounds that play an essential role in the growth and maintenance of the skeletal system through the regulation of calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is traditionally associated with inappropriate bone mineralization, leading to rickets in children and osteoporosis and osteomalacia in adults. Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease” due to the inability to diagnose until the first fracture. Moreover, vitamin D contributes to the improvement of muscular strength. The European Commission has authorized an Article 14 health claim, submitted by DSM, stating that ‘vitamin D helps to lower the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness3.

Unlike other vitamins, of which sufficient levels can be consumed via the diet, sun exposure is the main source of vitamin D. However, some factors might interfere with the body’s ability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. The new paper suggests that poor vitamin D status in India can be explained by high pollution levels, which prevent ultraviolet radiations from reaching the Earth’s surface4. Additionally, urbanization has changed the housing landscape resulting in over-crowded houses with limited daylight. The typical middle class lifestyle now favors staying inside air-conditioned homes, rather than sitting outside in the sun. The use of clothing to cover the face or body parts due to cultural or religious beliefs or for sun protection, also limits sun exposure5,6.

Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at Groningen University, comments: “Low vitamin D status remains a major public health concern in India as well as other parts of the world, and can have a significant impact on healthcare costs. To better reflect the gained understanding of vitamin D, guidance on optimal vitamin D status and intake and ways to fill the nutritional gap are required. Dietary supplements are an effective, low cost and safe source of vitamin D, but consumption in India is not common.”

DSM is an official ‘Nutrition Supporter’ of World Osteoporosis Day that took place on 20th October 2015. The yearlong campaign aims to raise awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. DSM is also involved in a series of webinars on vitamins and benefits to human health. For more information on vitamin D, please visit to download our infographic and whitepaper, and watch the webinar at

Vitamins in Motion

Vitamins play an essential role for health, wellness and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle. They are key to solving our global nutritional challenges. DSM, a global leader in health and nutrition science, is leading an initiative - Vitamins in Motion - to highlight the important role of vitamins. The campaign advocates for increased access, through innovative solutions, to the essential vitamins all people need to be healthy and well-nourished. To learn more, visit

1) Trilok, G., Chugh, R. and Eggersdorfer, M, 2015. Poor Vitamin D Status in Healthy Population in India: A Review of Current Evidence, International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research:
4) Agarwal, K.S. et al, 2002. The impact of atmospheric pollution on vitamin D status of infants and toddlers in Delhi, India. Arch Dis Child. 87, 111-113
5) Das, G. et al, 2006. Hypovitaminosis D among healthy adolescent girls attending an inner city school. Arch dis child. 91, 569 -572
6) Clemens, T.L. et al. 1982. Increased skin pigmentation reduces the capacity of skin to synthesize vitamin D3. Lancet. 1, 74-76