Despite enjoying all-year-round sunshine, UAE has one of the highest levels of vitamin D deficiency in the world with approximately 90% population having Vitamin D deficiency (DHA, 2017)
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is important for good overall health, strong and healthy bones. It is one of the most important vitamins which help body absorb iron, calcium and zinc, as well as maintaining healthy immune, muscle and nervous systems.
Research also suggests it could help prevent colon and breast cancer and be used to treat high blood pressure.
What causes vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:
1. You don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. In case of a strict vegan diet,
2. Your exposure to sunlight is limited. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, wear long robe or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.
3. You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure.
What are the symptoms and health risks of vitamin D deficiency?
- Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency
Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe asthma in children
Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test.
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency
If you don’t spend much time in the sun or always are careful to cover your skin (sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production), you should speak to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly if you have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. Our teams of primary healthcare physicians at Amber Clinics are assisting patients in diagnosis, treatment and management of Vitamin D deficiency.