“I was shocked that I had an injury as serious as a hip fracture and it was not a freak accident,” said the 32-year-old, who owns a skincare business.
She was diagnosed with osteopenia – a condition characterised by low bone mass and weak bones. The doctor told her she was deficient in vitamin D, which increases the risk of fractures.
Ang subsequently underwent an operation to insert three screws in her left hip. She was also prescribed with vitamin D and calcium supplements, which she is still taking.
Like her, many people in Singapore lack vitamin D even though there is abundant sunshine here, doctors tell The Straits Times.
A normal level of vitamin D is 30 to 100 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml). An insufficient level is classified as below 30ng per ml, while 10ng per ml and below is considered deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, a lower immunity to infections and a higher risk of autoimmune disease, among other issues.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Temasek Foundation would provide a two-month supply of vitamin D supplements free of charge to low-income households consisting of vulnerable groups, including seniors and expectant mothers.
Commonly called the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is mainly produced in the skin when it is exposed to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of the sun.
The vitamin is involved in calcium absorption, immune function, and protecting bone, muscle and heart health.
Dr Derek Koh, head of medical health screening at Thomson Wellth Clinic, said about 80 per cent of his clinic’s patients between the ages of 30 and 70 have low levels of, or are deficient in, vitamin D.
“Most Singaporeans are not exposed much to the sun as they are largely covered by clothes and shaded by umbrellas in the afternoon,” he said.
Dr Nitish Mishra, an endocrinologist at Singapore Medical Group’s Diabetes, Thyroid and Endocrine Clinic, also said two- thirds of his patients are vitamin D deficient.