Vitamin D Deficiency In UAE

By Nafeesa Alwathaifi, Senior General Practitioner


Nafeesa Alwathaifi
Senior General Practitioner

March 11, 2019

Over 90 percent of the UAE population is Vitamin D-deficient and the food industry is now being asked to fortify juices, milk and other dairy products with the vitamin.

Following the two-year ongoing Vitamin D study being conducted in collaboration with Professor Michael Holick, an American endocrinologist and celebrated authority on Vitamin D deficiency, the DHA has now started a 22-week food education program in nurseries to train parents on how to provide balanced nutrition to their children.

Alerting to the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency, “Vitamin D deficiency is a major health issue around the world and adults require to have 2,000 units of Vitamin D per day. Pregnant women who have a Vitamin D deficiency have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia and premature delivery. Studies also indicate that women born to Vitamin D-deficient women can suffer from conditions such as schizophrenia, asthma and some forms of developmental disorders. Children from the age of one year up to their teenage years require 600-1,000 units of Vitamin D per day. If a person is obese, he or she requires two to three times the stipulated amount of Vitamin D.

“It is also indicated that if a child is deficient in Vitamin D for the first 10 years of life, he or she is likely to suffer from multiple sclerosis and has an 88 percent risk of developing Type I diabetes or 33 percent risk of Type II diabetes.”

Making simple changes to one’s lifestyle could help replenish Vitamin D. “In the UAE, absorption of Vitamin D is possible in sunlight only from 10 am to 3 pm. People need to expose nearly 40 percent of their skin, avoid wearing sunscreen and face sunlight for 30 minutes in a day within these hours. Those with lighter skin can do with exposure for just 15 minutes. Having 12 almonds a day can help you replenish your Vitamin D reserves. Those with severe Vitamin D deficiency might require injections or supplements that are also fortified with magnesium as this micronutrient helps in better absorption of Vitamin D.”

Vitamin D facts

  • Best time to absorb sun: 10am-3pm
  • 40% of skin surface needs to be exposed to the sun
  • Face sunlight for 30 minutes
  • Lighter-skinned individuals can do a 15-minute sun absorption
  • Eat 12 almonds a day

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