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Scrutiny
 
MILK IN INDIA: LOW ON NUTRIENTS
Make Vit. D Fortification a Rule
The Government must Ensure Milk is Fortified with Vitamin D in India; An Easy Solution to Counter Rickets, Osteomalacia and other bone Diseases
Issue Date - 23/06/2011
 
Consider this: A 2008 National Rickets Survey found that 197 out of 20,000 children had rickets and further concluded that around 550,000 children are suffering from rickets. Rickets (in children) and Osteomalacia (in adults) are similar in nature. Both are bone-weakening diseases and lead to deformities. Incidence is high among children as their bones are weak in their growing age, and curing requires considerable calcium and vitamin D. Why Vitamin D is important is because calcium cannot be absorbed by the body unless there is sufficient Vitamin D in the body. While exposure to sunlight is the best method for the body to naturally create Vitamin D, the dark skins of Indians ensures that enough Vitamin D is never created within the body.

Milk is considered an important source of this vitamin. But the milk that Indians consume normally is so highly adulterated that the question of nutrients comes much later. Add to that the problem of milk incontinence, which many Indians suffer. Curd is a good substitute source but not everybody takes that. Also, breast milk is extremely low in Vitamin D, resulting in new born children suffering the most.

A few developed countries have drafted laws that solved these problems. In US, its imperative for all milk producers to fortify their milk with Vitamin D. The Office of Dietary Supplements, US government, has asserted that children need 600 International Units (IUs) of Vitamin D to stay healthy. Vitamin D fortified milk alone can provide 115-124 IUs of the vitamin per cup, which will be around 20% or more of this requirement. Countries like US and Canada have made sale of raw milk illegal. Given that the number of people suffering from bone-related diseases is high in India, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs should immediately force packaged milk producers to add vitamin D during pasteurization. Some firms like Nestle, Amul already provide such milk. But rickets, which US all but removed by 1945, can be removed in India only by enforcing a rule.

 

Sray Agarwal           

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