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90pc in Bahrain ‘run risk of Vitamin D deficiency’

MANAMA, May 24, 2015

More than 90 per cent of Bahrain's population is at risk from bone complications because they are not getting enough Vitamin D, a report said.

Despite almost year-round sunshine, a major source of Vitamin D, an alarming new study has found that less than one in 10 people are getting sufficient amounts, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

A survey of around 5,000 people, aged between 20 and 50, by Al Hilal Hospital, Muharraq, found that 92.04 per cent of those tested had a Vitamin D deficiency.

It was conducted to coincide with World Health Day, after concerns were expressed that not enough data was available in the country.

Experts assumed Vitamin D deficiency in Bahrain was comparable to neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of the population are estimated to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.

Lifestyle

The condition affects bones and can lead to skeletal diseases such as rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults, while scientists now believe that it can also contribute to metabolic disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, muscle weakness and cognitive disorders.

Al Hilal Hospital chief executive Dr Sai Giridhar said most of those tested were Bahraini women, who accounted for almost 80 per cent of the sample.

However, he told the GDN the results illustrated the seriousness of the issue - which he blamed on changing lifestyles.

"The truth is that we have faced a dramatic lifestyle shift over the past three or four decades, which has seen people getting less and less exposure to the sun - the basic provider of Vitamin D," he said.

"Today it is a hot topic, mainly because doctors are finding that more and more people are suffering a Vitamin D deficiency.

"Many people mistakenly think Vitamin D deficiency is a new fad thought up by the medical and pharmaceutical industries to make money.

"But the truth is that we faced a dramatic lifestyle shift over the past three or four decades, which has seen people getting less and less exposure to the sun."

Dr Giridhar said advances in technology were among factors contributing to the problem.

"When computers, technology and the knowledge industry changed our lives in the late 1970s, we disengaged from the normal habits that exposed us to sunshine," he said.

"Rooms were closed to facilitate air conditioning, more and more of our work was done on computers which meant we did not go into the sun as often as people did in the 60s or early 70s.

"We are also seated in one place for long periods, leading to obesity, which is a Vitamin D inhibitor.

"Usage of sunblock and fashion trends such as whitening creams and lotions lead to less absorption of sun rays by our skin.

"Most adults work indoors and wear more clothing during the week, which leaves only about 10 to 15 per cent of their body exposed to UV for short periods, so they cannot meet their vitamin D needs through the sun alone.

"All of this has a huge detrimental effect on our body's absorption of Vitamin D."

Exposure

Conservative Arab dress has also been blamed for contributing to the problem, with women often covered with abayas and hijabs and men wearing long thobes and gutras while outdoors.

"People trot out the standard belief that a half-hour exposure to the sun per day is enough to prevent the deficiency," said Dr Giridhar.

"But sitting in your living room with the curtains drawn back or driving to work in your car does not count as exposure.

"With weather conditions in Bahrain being rather extreme, early morning or the 5pm to 6pm sunlight in summertime would be ideal.

"The important thing about using the sun for Vitamin D production is to know that less is more. You are better off with short regular exposure to the sun rather than prolonged exposure." – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Weather | Bone health | Vitamin D |

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