Epidemic of Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Management: Awareness among Indian Medical Undergraduates
It is now known that vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem. In our country, as food fortification is lacking, supplementation with pharmaceutical preparations is the only means of treatment of vitamin D deficiency. We aimed to study the composition and availability of various vitamin D preparations in the Indian market, data about which was collected from annual drug compendium. The preparations were assessed for total number, different formulations, constituents and amount of each constituent present in the formulation. Vitamin D3 is available in the form of cholecalciferol, alfacalcidiol and calcitriol as single ingredient products and in combination with calcium and other micronutrients. Most of the supplements contain calcitriol (46.5%) or alfacalcidiol (43%) as tablets (51.1%) and capsules (35.2%). Cholecalciferol, the preferred form for prophylaxis and treatment of vitamin D deficient states, constitutes only 10% of the available market preparations. High market sales of calcium supplements containing calcitriol indicate increasing intake of calcitriol rather than cholecalciferol; which could predispose to toxicity. There is a need for marketing and rational prescribing of the appropriate vitamin D supplement in ostensibly healthy Indian population. Implementation of population-based education and intervention programmes with enforcement of strict regulations could generate awareness and curb unsupervised intake of vitamin D containing dietary supplements. This health challenge mandates effective nutritional policies, fortification and supplementation programmes and partnership between government, healthcare and industry to safeguard the health of Indian population at large.