Connector July 2023

CONNECTOR.AE 40 CONNECTOR.AE 41 Health and Wellness Health and Wellness Osteoporosis occurs when the bones are weakened and slowly happens over the course of several years, making the body prone to breaks and falls. Additionally, rickets is commonly found in children, where the bones do not receive the right amount of calcium and phosphorus, making them weak and brittle, leading to bone deformities as a child grows. Vitamin D deficiency can also manifest in various ways and individuals that experience these symptoms need to visit a doctor to get a consultation. To measure vitamin D levels in the body, a blood test is taken where a blood sample will be collected after a needle is inserted into a vein in the arm. With this prevalent issue and most people in the UAE not getting sufficient vitamin D to prevent long-lasting issues in the body, there are some preventive measures that can be taken to maintain the vitamin D count in the body. Exposure to sunlight: During the summer months when the temperatures rise in the UAE, most people avoid the outdoors at all costs as they are not wanting to experience the humidity. However, doing so can lead to the body not receiving the required amount of vitamin D. Additionally, as sunscreen creates a barrier to protect from the harmful UV rays of the sun, it leads to the time spent outside not being enough to get the needed vitamin D. To get the vitamin D required into the body, individuals need to stand in the sun without sunscreen for around 20 minutes every day. Dr Mohamed Ahmed Raslan Omar of Burjeel Hospital said, “Exposure to sunlight is important. The best time to absorb sunlight is between 10am and 3pm. During this time, 40% of the skin surface needs to be exposed to the sun.” Taking vitamin D supplements: To improve vitamin D levels, people need to be exposed to the sun during peak hours. Though there is all year round sunshine in the UAE, many people do not get a sufficient dose of vitamin D, as their exposure to the sun is limited due to spending so much time indoors while working. Also, a high number of people choose not to go out in the sun, to protect their skin from the harmful UV rays which can lead to health issues including skin cancer, as well as wrinkles and skin ageing. A great alternative to maintaining the count in the body are vitamin D supplements. The amount of vitamins needed for the body is measured in International Units (IU) and is not the same as milligrams. Before taking supplements, consult a doctor to ensure that too much vitamin D is not being consumed, as it can be harmful to the body. Dr Juliana Korth of Allied Medical Center added, “It is difficult nowadays for people to produce enough vitamin D. In my daily practice, I screen all my patients and I recommend supplementation to virtually everyone that is not already taking vitamin D supplements. The minimum daily need is 400 IU for adults and 800 IU for postmenopausal women, and for all men after 65.” Eating nutrient-rich meals: Food plays a vital role in the overall well-being of an individual. Consuming unhealthy and junk food leads to an increase in health issues. Not a lot of food items help in increasing the count of vitamin D levels naturally, however, there are a few that do contribute to maintaining vitamin D levels. Dr Mohamed Ahmed Raslan Omar of Burjeel Hospital said, “Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods, but you can get it from plant and animal-based foods including oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, egg yolks, cod liver, fortified milk and cereals.” Vitamin D deficiency affects around 90% of the people in the region and 60% to 70% of individuals worldwide, making it a common issue faced by many. Taking regular tests will give information of vitamin D levels in an individual, and taking supplements, eating healthy and getting enough sun exposure, can help ensure the right levels are maintained, and avoid longterm ailments in bones and joints.