A large number of the residents of sunny United Arab Emirates suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Researchers at Dubai Hospital reached to this shocking conclusion after conducting a study on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among the country’s population.
The findings of the research were revealed at the Third International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Clinical Implications, which took place last weekend in Abu Dhabi. According to the results, 78 percent of the population in UAE suffers from vitamin D deficiency, with the majority of sufferers found to be women. And more than 80 percent of Dubai residents don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin, as it is also known. The statistics seem illogical, considering the fact that usually most of the needed vitamin comes from direct exposure to the sun’s radiation. So, how is this possible, with so many hours of sunlight in Dubai?
Doctors say that the results are not surprising, as most people don’t even get outside during the day. The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is a result from the indoor work, the specific lifestyle and clothing of Emirati men and women, experts say. Additionally, there is no official policy to ensure high vitamin levels in food products. There are several factors which contribute to the “vitamin D epidemic” in Dubai and the UAE:
Normally, the human body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Other natural sources of vitamin D are animal-based foods such as fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver.
People with darker complexions are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, because the pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make the vitamin in response to sunlight exposure.
Overweight and obese people (with body mass index of 30 or greater) usually have low blood levels of vitamin D. And UAE population is among the heaviest in the world, according to latest statistics.
According to scientists, around one billion people around the world suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Common symptoms of the condition include bone pain and muscle weakness, but in many cases they are so subtle, they can easily go unnoticed. However, this poses serious risks to the overall health of both children and adults. Vitamin D helps the body absorbs calcium from the diet and traditionally, vitamin D deficiency is associated with rickets – a disease, in which the bone tissue cannot properly mineralize resulting in soft bones and skeletal deformities. But there are many other dangerous conditions and diseases it is linked with:
- Severe asthma in children
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
Vitamin D, according to doctors, helps prevent diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, and many others. That’s why regular exposure to sunlight is essential for the overall health – 15-20 minutes of walking outside in the morning should be enough. Umbrellas and even the sunscreens, which are so popular, can be skipped sometimes (early in the morning) as they block the sun radiation and the body stops producing vitamin D. Of course, getting outside in the hottest weather is not the healthiest thing to do, so a morning or an afternoon walk is the best option. Another solution is eating fortified diary foods and fish, as well as taking vitamin D supplements.