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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 08/06/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) 15 to 20 minutes of early sunshine is crucial for well-being and for the bones to remain healthy.

age no bar seems to be the tagline of vitamin d deficiency a common lifestyle condition which is widespread in the uae.

khaleej times spoke to several people diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency: 12-year-old school children working professionals in their 40s cooped in offices all day pregnant mothers in their late 20s and even grandmothers with spondylitis in their sixties who chewed too much betel nut and thus hindered vitamin d absorption. it is evident that everyone is as susceptible as the next when it comes to problems arising from a lack of sunshine.

dr javed rehman of the aster group says: “it’s a very very common problem in this region.” some of the causes he states are not eating food rich in vitamin d no direct exposure to the sun smoking and obesity. “people with dark skin are less able to produce vitamin d from sun.”

charu dev a 46-year old mother of a pre-teen chhavie was concerned when her daughter complained of feeling sluggish in school tired and constantly in low spirits. a visit to the doctor and subsequent blood test revealed a severe lack of vitamin d. charu says she was surprised as chhavie according to her gets enough sun. she plays outside daily in school and on weekends spends hours on the fairway playing a 9-holes golf game. the deficiency made the doctor prescribe vitamin d supplements for three months and charu says in a week she could see the difference in her child: chhavie was energetic and smiling more.

more sunshine is essential but not just at any time in the day. fifteen to 20 minutes every day of early sunshine — dawn till 11 am — is crucial for your physical well-being; for your bones to remain healthy. direct sunlight to your face arms hands and back for a short while (15-20 minutes) three to four days a week without applying any cream or sunscreens is ideal.

complications

lifestyle factors such as obesity and smoking greatly increase the risk of being vitamin d deficient which in turn gives rise to other more serious complications:

> bone fracture

> bone pain

> rickets in children

> osteomalasia in adults

> seizures

> tetany (spasms or tremors)

> hypocalcemia (low calcium > levels in the blood)

> irritability

> delayed walking

> chronic fatigue

> muscle weakness cramps

doctors told khaleej times thatere in the desert the sun’s rays get harmful around mid-day. you need a daily dose of natural vitamin d before that. sunshine through glass windows is no substitute for the real outdoors as the component in sunlight that helps the skin gets filtered.

it is also not advisable to get three hours of concentrated noon-sun at the beach over the weekend in place of the daily quota of early morning rays. as for diets besides foods rich in vitamin d — milk fish liver egg and liver oil — and sunlight exposure if you turn out to be vitamin d deficient there are supplements available at pharmacies.

the deficiency can however occur despite a healthy diet and sun exposure. “some people might have absorption problems in their intestine” says dr zaid muhammad al saadi at medcare hospital opposite safa park. he gets about five patients everyday who want their vitamin d levels checked.

it’s not that more and more people are suddenly deficient in the nutrient. “most patients are getting diagnosed with it but there is no outbreak of vitamin d deficiency” assures dr zaid. since awareness has increased people are coming forward to get their blood tested which explains the rise in reported incidents.

the symptoms of the deficiency are not specific but generally the first symptom is tiredness. “... they will not feel rested even if sleeping enough” says dr zaid. “vitamin d deficiency can change your mood to the lowest and there are links to all kinds of aches and pains in the body.”

he says there are possible links to heart disease sclerosis memory problems cholesterol and hypertension. “not all of them are proven ... there was one study that linked vitamin d deficiency to risk of pneumonia and immunity.”

people are advised to get out of their air-conditioned surroundings more often.

sunil agarkar an it-professional who spent six years in dubai was diagnosed with vitamin d deficiency last year during a medical test for his frequent cramps and his doctor prescribed supplements of 500 iu for 12 weeks.

sunil says: “you don’t realise living here and staying indoors all the time how little sun you’re actually getting and how many minor problems that creates which one tends to ignore. but since i’ve been going for a half-hour walk before office i feel much better. i was also told to have more milk. i’ve had to alter my lifestyle because of this and it’s paying off.”

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