United Arab Emirates, Dubai, 22nd August 2017 - According to the Abu Dhabi Health Authority, Vitamin D deficiency continues to be prevalent in the UAE with over 85% of the population suffering from the condition. In the Middle East, the risk factors of developing the deficiency are mainly linked with social, religious and environmental reasons.
For instance, the Abu Dhabi Health Authority points out that veiled women are more likely to suffer from lack of Vitamin D. They constitute 61% of all Vitamin D episodes in the Emirate because they do not expose enough skin to the sun which helps in Vitamin D formation. Dark skinned people are also at risk for developing the deficiency because their skin does not produce enough of the vitamin compared to those with fairer skin.Those who follow a strict vegan diet are also at risk of not consuming the recommended levels of the vitamin over time as the natural food sources of the vitamin are animal-based like fish, egg yolks, and beef liver.Smoking and obesity are also linked to the deficiency.
“Vitamins are vital for your body and an essential form of nutrients as the human body does not make them in adequate amount. The body forms Vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunlight. However, too much exposure to sunlight can lead to skin cancer. Hence, it's all the more imperative to consume Vitamins either naturally or through your diet,” said Dr. Maysoon Kamil Hassan, Consultant Pathologist and Head of Laboratory, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi.
So how can you tell if you are lacking Vitamin D? “One of the subtle, yet crucial, symptoms is bone pain and muscle weakness. Lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and loss of bone density which can lead to osteomalacia or even osteoporosis and fractures in adults,” she pointed out.
An American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry study in December 2006 found that elderly individuals with low levels of the vitamin are more likely to be depressed.
“Despite the prevalence of the condition, it is not difficult to take preventive measures to curb Vitamin D deficiency. Fishes like tuna and salmon are rich in the Vitamin D, so include large portions of it in your diet. Sun exposure is a good source of Vitamin D as well, so staying out in the sun will help in Vitamin D formation in skin. However do not stay long enough for your skin to turn red or pink and burn. Roughly 30 minutes under the rays when the sun is at its peak in the afternoon twice a week is ample exposure”, added Dr. Maysoon.
In spite of the UAE enjoying an ample sunlight during the year, the high temperatures mean it is less likely for the residents to enjoy time in the sun leading to a tendency to develop the deficiency.