Two in three women worldwide are suffering from Vitamin D inadequacy. According to results of a recent international study, 81% of post menopausal women from the Middle East who are tested for osteoporosis have inadequate Vitamin D levels.
Osteoporosis is a disease where the bones – particularly those of the spine, wrist and hips – become brittle. Though it mainly affects post menopausal women, accumulation of mass bone density is achieved as early as age 30. A woman will also not be aware of the gradual weakening of her bones unless the disease is already on its advanced stage or until she suffers from a fracture, which can dramatically alter her lifestyle and may even be the cause of her death.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements help ensure that the main organs of our body function efficiently. Bone health is assured by having ample amount of Vitamin D because inadequacy of this so-called “sunshine” vitamin tremendously increases a woman's risk of having osteoporosis and possibly other diseases. Taking medication which improves bone density and reduces bone breakdown and replacement is therefore highly recommended.
The main source of Vitamin D is exposure to sunlight but is not readily available from the diet since it has few natural sources which include yeast, vegetables, egg yolks, liver, oysters and some oily fish like salmon and mackerel. Meanwhile, daily multivitamins and supplements often do not give adequate levels of pharmaceutical-grade Vitamin D, and may not be taken regularly.
The common myth that women living in sunny areas are blessed with sufficient Vitamin D levels is clearly debunked by the international study. Use of sunscreen and avoidance of sun exposure prevalent among women wearing the traditional abaya are cited as major factors.
In May 2005, the European Medicines Agency recommends “Fosavance as treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis in patients at risk of Vitamin D insufficiency.” This medication taken only once a week, combines two active substances, alendronic acid and colecalciferol (Vitamin D3) which prevents bone loss and helps rebuild bones and lowers the risk of spine and hip fractures.
Dr. Hussein Saadi, Associate Professor of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University, explained that in a recent study supported by a grant from Shaikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences the “majority of 255 UAE women volunteers screened for Vitamin D deficiency had inadequate Vitamin D levels that could lead to osteoporosis. Adequate vitamin D supplementation is clearly needed in this high-risk population in order to prevent osteoporosis. Modes of prevention include increased skin exposure to sunlight, increased fortification of food items with vitamin D, and oral vitamin D supplementation. Daily oral intake of vitamin D should be increased to at least 800 IU in Arabian women to ensure adequate vitamin D.”