Is modern lifestyle a curse? A rise in vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 deficiency among young Indians

Cases of vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 deficiency are rising rapidly in the country. Almost 60 to 80% of people are complaining of orthopedic and neurological complaints. Earlier, known to be a deficiency of the geriatric population, it has increasingly been seen in the younger population now.

The modern lifestyle has made most of our lives monotonous and sedentary. Vitamins are building blocks of our body without which the body cannot function properly. Considering we spend more time indoors nowadays, the lack of sunlight can cause severe Vitamin D deficiency. In addition, many people might face health issues leading to problems such as back, shoulder, hip, and joint pain, among others. The vitamins B12 and D3 are distinctive for two reasons. To begin with, they cannot be obtained from plants. Secondly, as we age, we begin to develop difficulty absorbing them in their natural form.

In addition to foods such as fatty fish, red meat, egg yolks, fortified cereals and oils, and cheese, the sun is the most important and abundant source of Vitamin D. India being a tropical country, never required a FDA-approved supplementation program for Vitamin D, but with reduced sun exposure- either indoor lifestyle or applying sun protective lotion before going outside, the levels of vitamin D3 have reduced drastically in the younger population as well.

The sources of Vitamin B12 are meat, fish, milk, cheese, and some breakfast cereals. Vegetarians get their sources replenished through the fibre from vegetables, whole grains and whole pulses. An increase of fibre in the diet produces good bacteria which in turn produces B12. But due to excessive use of fertilizers and modern ways of washing vegetables and then refrigerating them for a longer period, it reduces their shelf life leading to excessive deficiency seen mainly in strict-vegetarians.

Other reasons for their deficiency could be excessive use of medication for diabetes, antibiotics, anti-seizure medicines, and medications to treat heartburn. They adversely affect the absorption of vitamin B12 in the gut. Chronic alcoholics and smokers exhibit this ill-absorption as well, in addition to autoimmune diseases affecting the intestines.

Since these two essential vitamins are crucial for brain, spine, muscle, and bone health, their long-term deficiency can cause permanent damage. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 causes macrocytic anemia, depression, dementia, and decreased cognitive function while Vitamin D3 deficiency can cause bone deformities, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, memory disturbances, depression, infertility, hormonal disturbances, and is also associated with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairments.

Our hematologic and neuropsychiatric functioning depends on vitamin B12, while our bones and mental health rely on vitamin D3. By getting adequate sunlight exposure and taking the required amount of supplementation, the young generation can maintain correct levels of these vitamins in their body and can prevent permanent damage to their body.