Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in South Asia

Syed Hassaan Masood, Mohammad Perwaiz Iqbal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin D, also described as 'the Sun Vitamin' is a steroid with hormone-like activity. It regulates the functions of over 200 genes and is essential for growth and development of the body. Vitamin D deficiency is quite prevalent throughout the world, but it appears to be much worse in the countries of sunny South Asia, especially among children, women and elderly. Poor diet, cultural practices of the region and poverty are some of the important reasons for vitamin D deficiency. Hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency) is considered responsible for rickets, birth defects, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, osteomalacia, chronic pain and muscle pain. Recent research has associated vitamin D deficiency as a contributing factor in diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, neurological disorders, autoimmune disease, depression and cancer. This paper reviews the problem of vitamin D deficiency with special reference to South Asia and recommends that education regarding adequate exposure to sunlight, proper diet and fortification of selected foodstuff with vitamin D may be helpful in reducing vitamin D deficiency in this part of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-897
Number of pages7
JournalPakistan Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • South Asia
  • Vitamin D deficiency


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