Tirupati, November 30: Speakers at the international symposium on ‘Metabolic bone disorders’ organised here on Thursday expressed concern over the alarming rise of calcium and vitamin D deficiency across the world and saw ‘food fortification’ as the answer.

The symposium, conducted by Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS), in association with National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, coincides with the 37th annual meeting of Endocrine Society of India (ESICON 2007).

In his address on ‘Calcium, Vitamin D and Bone health’, Michael Holick, professor of endocrinology at Boston University, USA, and an authority on vitamin D, explained that 95 per cent of the vitamin was derived from direct sunlight, while the same was conspicuously absent in one’s regular diet.

Expressing fear that a whopping 30-50 per cent of the global population might be affected by vitamin D deficiency, he advised a daily minimum intake of 1000 IU (international units).

Similarly, other speakers explained that while the minimum cut off level of vitamin D was 32 nanograms per ml, the level up to 10 nanograms was considered ‘insufficient’ and further degeneration could be categorised as ‘deficiency’.

This could lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Further, bones could develop brittleness and get weak due to ageing.

On ‘fluorosis’, it was explained that higher levels of fluorine present in water could get into the body and cause irregular growth and weakening of bones and later develop deformities and fractures.

The debate on ‘Hypovitaminosis D in India – Is food fortification the answer?’ was met with an overwhelming yes.

The speakers recalled in this connection the survey conducted recently in New Delhi, in which 35 per cent of the population was found having vitamin D deficiency.
Plea to Centre

Event moderator N. Kochu Pillai said the meet decided to appeal to the Government of India to provide supplements in the form of milk, cooking oil, white bread, wheat flour etc. to the poor, given the skin pigmentation of the region and ‘our natural predilection’ to avoid sunlight.

The meet also discussed calcium requirements as per the recommendations of WHO and FAO, hypocalcaemia, bone quality in osteoporosis/skeletal fluorosis etc.

SV Digital Library director B. S. Reddy inaugurated a ‘Trade Exhibition’, while SVIMS Director-cum-Vice-Chancellor G. Subramanyam was present. Earlier, the event coordinator C. V. Harinarayan welcomed the delegates.