The sunny side of overall wellbeing - GulfToday

The sunny side of overall wellbeing


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus the overarching need of maintaining good health. And that includes tackling vitamin D deficiency, one of the major problems in this part of the world and elsewhere.

Many here would like to stay away from the harsh glare of the sun and its concomitant effect of humidity and sequester themselves in airconditioned comfort.

This leads to all kinds of bone issues owing to non-exposure to the sunlight, a key source of vitamin D, which is common knowledge.

According to a 2015 report, the three most prevalent rheumatic conditions that affect women in the UAE are osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and vitamin D deficiency.

It is vital to spotlight these conditions as they are often debilitating and silent, and if not addressed, may cause further health complications.

Research in Vitamin D deficiency can play a major role in understanding various causes of illnesses. Also, these researches can lead to important cures and effective preventive therapies and approaches.

Vitamin D is not only an essential vitamin, but also an indispensable hormone for human growth and survival. However, the Middle East has been reportedly listed among the world’s regions where Vitamin D deficiency is disturbingly prevalent.

Most of us spend too little time outside in direct sunlight. And, sadly, this is an increasing problem with our young people where deficiency in Vitamin D can cause a myriad of life-long health-related issues, including bone and teeth development, auto-immune processes, disposition swings, obesity and disease resistance.

At the two-day seventh edition of the ”Abu Dhabi Annual International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency and Human Health — Exploring New Dimensions of Vitamin D and Its Impact on Human Health, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Co-Existence Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan encouraged the delegates to learn from all the curated evidence-based research work so that more appropriate and robust policies would be implemented to mitigate the debilitating conditions arising from Vitamin D deficiency. This was correlated with obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, reproductive issues and autoimmune processes.

In the context of the current global outbreak, Al Nahyan continued: “When we are weakened by these, we are more susceptible to COVID-19. We should therefore welcome the sun, that great source of Vitamin D.”

Al Nahyan lamented that though “Abu Dhabi is among the sunniest places (on Earth),” hypovitaminosis D, the other name for the lack of vitamin D, has been continually recorded to impact both Emiratis and UAE residents, due to “modern lifestyle which inhibits good health.”

According to research, there is a significant prevalence of back pain in the UAE, with some 60 percent of residents affected by the condition.

In the UAE, the possible causes are higher BMI, lack of regular outdoor exercise and, among the older population, osteoporosis – a condition which is more prevalent in the country compared to other parts of the world due to people covering up from the intense sun and therefore experiencing reduced vitamin D levels.

If a family has a history of cardiac-related problems, they tend to focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly. The same is true of back pain – if back pain is prevalent, it is important to take greater care when looking after your back.

A few years ago, Al Jalila Foundation launched a study into osteoporosis.

The research investigates the prevalence of osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency in the UAE, and the correlation of vitamin D, diabetes mellitus and other risk factors of bone mineral density. Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable, but many people are not diagnosed in time to receive effective therapy during the early phase of the disease.

Vitamin D deficiency has become a global health concern. Addressing this lacuna could go a long way in contributing to good health.

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