Soak up more sunshine, women!

Sunlight missing from the lives of busy young women is making them deficient in Vitamin D, which has emerged as a major health issue among them, experts say. Vitamin D deficiency in young girls can pre-cipitate osteoporosis and increase the risk of fractures.“Vitamin D is a major regulator of calcium metabolism and hence is an important de-terminant of bone health. Despite abundant sunshine, Vitamin D deficiency is wide-spread in India,” Palash Gupta, senior con-sultant, Orthopaedics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, told us.Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder character-ized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone architecture leading to increased bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures. Pri-mary osteoporosis refers to a reduction in bone mass related to aging and menopause, whereas secondary osteoporosis results from specific diseases or drugs.Osteoporosis is also characterized by abnor-mality in the amount and architectural ar-rangement of bone tissue.Estimates suggest that 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men by would be osteoporo-tic by 2015.Palash Gupta said: “Judicious exposure of arms and legs or hands to sunlight, typically for not more than 5-15 minutes per day, for 2-3 times per week during spring and summer is all that is required to satisfy the body’s re-quirements.”Anoop Mishra, Chairperson of the Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Meta-bolic Diseases and Endocrinology, said: “It is one of the important health issues in women because of lack of exposure to sunshine due to clothes and lack of outdoor activity”.Vitamin D deficiency is the cause of bone loss (osteopenia and osteoporosis) which leads to fractures, he added.“Obesity, polycystic ovarian disease (and re-sultant acne, excess facial hair), menstrual irregularity and difficulty in conception are some of the other health issues facing wom-en,” he said.According to Raju Easwaran, senior consultant, orthopaedics, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, “women are especially prone to developing osteoporosis or weak bones af-ter they lose the protective effect of oestrogen following meno-pause”.“Compounding this is the ram-pant Vitamin D deficiency that is seen in women of all age groups. An Indian study found that 70-75 percent of women in the post-menopausal and re-productive age groups are defi-cient in Vitamin D,” he said.Eswaran said women should also be concerned about Vitamin D levels for several reasons.“There is good evidence that sufficient lev-els of Vitamin D (>30ng/ml) are associated with lower risk of serious pregnancy com-plications like pre-eclampsia, decreased chances of caesarean section and reduced incidence of breast cancer,” he added.Other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are also lower in wom-en with normal vitamin D levels.