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Vitamin D is as important as calcium intake for bone health

(Staff reporter) / 22 October 2011

DUBAI - Less exposure to the sun leads to a silent, invisible epidemic: Vitamin D deficiency – the vitamin essential for the absorption of calcium into the blood stream and the bones and the teeth.

Without sufficient levels of Vitamin D, a resulting calcium deficiency may occur causing bones to become brittle due to insufficient mineralisation of calcium, say doctors.

Vitamin D is as important as calcium intake to your bone health and integrity.

“Vitamin D prevents the ‘soft bone’ diseases — rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults). It promotes bone growth and bone remodeling, and along with calcium, it prevents osteoporosis in older adults and other complications like depression irrespective of the age group”, said Dr Manikandan Sankaramani, Specialist Dentist, Aster Medical Center.

Vitamin D deficiency affects the health of our teeth as well. Severe and rapid resorption of teeth-supporting bone lead to gum pockets surrounding the teeth, which in turn leads to a gum disease called acute periodontitis which will manifest as severe bleeding gums, food accumulation, foul odour, pus formation and mobility of the teeth.

If bone loss is more than 50 per cent, it leads to multiple root canal infections simultaneously. In young children, Vitamin D deficiency alters calcium deposition and affects teeth formation which is of serious concern. Vitamin D deficiency in children between the ages of 2 to 12 years affects the formation of permanent dentition. This will lead to defective enamel formation and discoloration of the permanent teeth.

Vitamin D deficiency is a serious disorder in both young and older patients. This condition is very difficult to manage in advanced stages and lead to loss of multiple teeth.

The main risk factors for low Vitamin D levels include older age, female sex, higher latitudes, winter season, darker skin pigmentation, less sunlight exposure, dietary habits, and the absence of vitamin D fortification in common foods. Further factors include the increase in urbanisation, where people tend to live and work indoors, as well as cultural practices that tend towards sun avoidance and the wearing of traditional clothing that covers the skin completely. The severity of the problem in Middle East and South Asia arises from the combination of several of these risk factors.

Unfortunately, dietary sources of vitamin D are restricted to comparatively few foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines) or fish livers (i.e., cod liver oil), milk and dairy products, egg yolks, and beef liver.

The easiest & cheapest way to get vitamin D is to expose our body to the sun daily, for about 20 to 30 minutes on each side, front and back especially in the morning and evening time. Simple blood test is done to detect Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D level less than 20 mg/mL indicate significant deficiency and must be treated immediately.


Dr Manikandan Sankaramani, Specialist Dentist, Aster Medical Center

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