In the backdrop of rising incidence of Vitamin ‘D ’Deficiencies (VDD), particularly amongst the young people, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently launched a campaign to spread awareness about availing Vitamin D through natural sunlight.
The campaign called ‘Project Dhoop’ was implemented in collaboration with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), NCERT and North MCD Schools.
Through this unique initiative the FSSAI urged schools to shift their morning assembly to noon time mainly between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to ensure maximum absorption of Vitamin D to students through natural sunlight.
At the launch event of the project Dhoop, organised at National Bal Bhavan, New Delhi, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, FSSAI said, “Despite the fact that most children suffer from Vitamin D deficiency in India, most of us are not aware of its serious consequences. FSSAI has always endeavored to educate the community about such pressing issues. Project Dhoop’s Noon Assembly is an innovative and effective concept to ensure that school students get adequate Vitamin D through sunlight, while also opting to choose food products like milk and edible oils that are fortified with Vitamins A and D.”
He further said that opting for fortified foods (with +F symbol) is a simple and inexpensive way to address micronutrient deficiencies. Both fortified milk and fortified edible oil are readily available across the country.
While speaking on the occasion, retired Major General Dr R K Marwaha, scientific advisor and senior consultant endocrinology said, “Human body needs adequate Vitamin D to make its bones strong and other systemic functions of body. Nearly 90% of body’s Vitamin D requirement is met by adequate exposure to sunlight and only 10% is met through diet. Contrary to popular belief that morning sunshine is best for our bones, it is actually the sunshine from 11AM to 1PM that is most beneficial in increasing Vitamin D levels in human body because of best UVB radiations”
Body needs micronutrients including vitamins to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances which are essential for proper growth and development. Vitamin A, D, B12, Iron, Folic Acid and Iodine are most important one.
Insufficient amount of these vitamins pose a major threat to the health and development of populations across the world, particularly children and pregnant women in countries like India.
For Vitamin D, fish and its products are the only real sources. Many factors are responsible for Vitamin D deficiency including overuse of sun screen, wearing clothes that cover most of the skin, working inside all day in air-conditioned atmosphere etc.
Most parts of India receive abundant sunshine throughout the year. Yet shockingly, studies have found that more than 90 per cent of boys and girls across various Indian cities are deficient in Vitamin D. In Delhi alone, 90-97 per cent of school children (aged 6-17 years) have Vitamin D Deficiency.