Vitamin D deficiency could cause deadly diseases, warn UAE doctors
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, up to 90 per cent of UAE residents suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
Common misconceptions and negligence over vitamin D deficiencies are a huge health risk on the population, warn UAE doctors, as a lack of sun exposure could lead to lifelong diseases, including kidney, liver and heart diseases.
Dr Jimmy Joseph, Specialist, Internal Medicine, Universal Hospital, said the most common vitamin deficiency found in patients in the UAE is vitamin D deficiency.
"There is a huge lack of people getting the right amount of sun exposure they need in the UAE, and the problem is, modernity and lifestyle play a big part in this."
"Most people are traveling by cars, you don't often see a lot of people walking outside. Children are even staying indoors playing games on their iPads rather than playing outside."
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), up to 90 per cent of UAE residents suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
Dr Joseph said a lack in vitamin D deficiency not only causes fatigue, muscle weakness and pain in the bones, but also triggers deadly diseases.
"Vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor to diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, hypertension and heart disease."
The deficiency also contributes to asthma symptoms and wheezing, as well as depression, schizophrenia, cognitive imperative and memory loss.
Dr Joseph added that he receives around five patients each day that are carrying the symptoms.
"Many organs are affected by this deficiency, and that is something that people must take seriously."
He pointed out that symptoms of the deficiency includes feeling a "boney-pain," after simple chores or activities, such as washing the dishes.
"A lot of patients feel their arms are weak, sore and tiered after washing the dishes, which is a sign of the deficiency itself."
He noted that vitamin D is crucial as it helps with calcium absorption, and calcium is the building block human bones.
"When you have weak bones and suffer a small trivial fall you may have a fracture, because the bones are fragile, weak and easily breakable."
Dr Anita Das Gupta, Clinical Dietician and Head of Department, Burjeel Hospital, said although it is important to protect the skin with sunblock, it is equally important to leave the skin without sunscreen for a short period of time.
"Sunscreen prevents the absorption of Vitamin D."
"Having around 20 minutes a day of proper sun exposure, roughly between 10am - 4pm will provide the right amount of vitamin D."
She added that besides spending time outside and taking supplements prescribed by the doctor, some foods are also fortified with vitamin D, including milk, yogurt and cereals.
"Salmon and sardine also have vitamin D, as well as nuts, egg yolk and mushrooms."
"Having a healthy balanced diet, which is filled with the nutrients from all the food groups is the best way to insure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs."