As per the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), UAE is considered one of the hottest regions to live in, but a major section of the population living here still suffer from Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. In fact, Vitamin D deficiency is rather common among women and kids, the reasons for this may vary. One reason may be not consuming food rich in Vitamin D, lack of outdoor activity hence less exposure to the sun. A lot of Arab women suffer from the condition because of religious reasons where they cover themselves with long robes for prolonged hours, hence preventing exposure to sunlight. A lot also has to do with the geographic location, we receive so much sunlight that the weather makes outdoor activities close to nil. High intake of soft drinks could also be a reason for the deficiency in youngsters. Stress, diet, obesity, smoking, consumption of alcohol are also causative factors. Lack of Vitamin D is rather common in pregnant women, infants, and aged people but given the changed and convenient lifestyle choices of a lot of young people these days, they also suffer from the nutritional deficiency.
Vitamin D is one of the many important nutrients our body requires to stay healthy. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the body by helping absorb calcium to build bones and keep them strong. Vitamin D also facilitates functioning of the immune system by fighting against infections and other illness, for instance, flu. This nutrient does play a role in reducing the risk of breast cancer, colon and prostate cancer, heart diseases, depression, weight gain etc. It is not proved that the lack of Vitamin D causes these conditions but people with higher levels of Vitamin D have the lower risk of developing these conditions.
The two most common conditions caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D are Rickets in children and Osteoporosis (bones become brittle) in adults. Vitamin D deficiency may differ in people depending on their body type and the need for the nutrient. Some people have body types that have an increased need for Vitamin D, some do not make sufficient Vitamin D and others have a deficiency because of not enough dietary Vitamin D. Muscle pain or bone pain may suggest Vitamin D deficiency. In adults, general fatigue, pain in the neck, pain while performing daily activities like sitting or getting up from a chair, climbing stairs etc. are symptoms of deficiency. In children, delayed tooth, slower growth, respiratory symptoms, being prone to infections etc. may be the symptoms. Review of a patient’s medical history, symptoms, lifestyle and a simple blood test can reveal whether the patient has a lack of Vitamin D or not. There are available supplements and tablets for Vitamin D which can be used on being consulted and prescribed by a doctor. Certain lifestyle changes like including Vitamin D rich foods in your diet comprising orange juice fortified with Vitamin D, eggs, margarine butter, milk, sardine, tuna, cereals etc. will surely help go a long way in curbing the deficiency. Exposing yourself to sunlight for at least 10 minutes a day will help the skin absorb vitamin D because the sun is the main source of this nutrient.
Aster Clinic, Dubai Silicon Oasis