Khaleeji levels of Vitamin D extremely low. Read more…

After a recent blood test, I was surprised to find that I had an alarmingly low level of Vitamin D in me. I seemed to lack Vitamin D, the vitamin one gathers after sun-exposure; me- a Kuwaiti and resident of one of the hottest places in the Gulf, and World.

How can I be low on Vitamin D when I live in a place where 50 degrees Celsius is a norm in summer, where we all spend our weekends at the beach being scorched by that unbelievably potent sun, where one gets a hand-tan just by driving around.

Turns out, it's fairly prevalent in this part of the world; the Middle East and most distinctly the Gulf. Vitamin D levels, despite the abundance of sunshine and heat for that matter, seem to be low all over the Gulf in women especially.

Researchers and doctors concede that Vitamin D is an important vitamin, and should not be taken lightly like most people do. Not only is it needed for building strong bones and curbing effects or the occurrence of osteoporosis, it also regulates the calcium as well as phosphorus levels in the blood by promoting absorption of calcium from food in the kidneys, and intestines.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased susceptibility to various illnesses and diseases such as high blood pressure, tuberculosis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and the list goes on.

The only direct source of Vitamin D is the sun, with a diet high in fish being an alternative yet substandard second source.

Guess what? We as Khaleejies aren't getting enough sun apparently, since Vitamin D levels in this area seem to be lower than the World’s average despite this horrendous heat.

In a study conducted in the Al-Ain in the UAE, Saadi and Collegues at the United Arab Emirates University studied vitamin levels in 90 women from different marital backgrounds, and found that only two women from each group studied were not Vitamin D deficient, thereby indicating that more than 90% of those women lacked this important Vitamin; this was just a study of a sample of the population demonstrating that this deficiency is far more than abundant, it's widespread!

According to lab tests done at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City in the Abdu Dhabi, “60% of females and 60% of males in the UAE alone suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.” That's more than half of the actual population.

But one would surely ask why?

A study conducted in Adan Hospital by Al-Sonbaty, and Abdul-Ghaffar in Kuwait found that there was a higher prevalence in Vitamin D deficiency in veiled women as opposed to non-veiled women, indicating that Vitamin D deficiency might be caused by the fact that modest dressing blocks some of the sun's rays from being absorbed by our bodies.

Researchers also believe that we aren't getting enough of the sun, as in we're avoiding it at all costs in this part of the world, be it by covering up, staying out of the sun in it's prime hours (11 am-2 pm), and just finding anyway to be sheltered; which ironically blocks the sun's rays thereby blocking Vitamin D absorption.

Quite a contrasting notion and idea to the whole, “lather on sunscreen and stay out of the sun” theory, which seems to be popular those days.

Either way, no one can forget the damaging aftermaths that result from lengthy sun exposure, and the need for one to “sit in the shade and put one’s money in the sun,” to avoid being burnt.

But like everything in this world it seems, there are two sides to the same coin always; so lather on that sunscreen when out under that glorious ball of fire, and don't go into extreme summer hiding/hibernation whilst it's out. 

PS. Get tested for Vitamin D, and consult your Doctor. You might need to get Vitamin D shots to increase your levels; don't worry it doesn't hurt; tried and tested by yours truly.

– Noufa Al-Sabah. Sources:  Gulfnews.com     http://www.gulfnews.com/Nation/Health/10216062.html, Arabianbusiness.com http://www.arabianbusiness.com/index.php?option=com_c ontent&view=article&id=495572&Itemid=1 and PubMed.org  http://www.pubmed.org/

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