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Vitamin D deficiency causes grave diseases'

27 March, 2012

DUBAI: Inadequate sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency have put people at risk of serious illnesses including cardiovascular diseases, tuberculosis, cancer and diabetes, according to an expert.

"Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic of such magnitude that it is not only alarmingly widespread, but also a root cause of many serious diseases," said Dr Afrozul Haq, Senior Clinical Scientist, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC).

These include rickets (childhood bone disease), psoriasis, osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, respiratory infections, allergy, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, as well as, common cold and flu. In the Middle East region, despite the year round sunshine, statistics are grim.

At the first International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency in studies, which showed that a high percentage of children are vitamin D deficient 90 per cent of students in Abu Dhabi. Eighty-one per cent of post menopausal women in the Middle East tested for osteoporosis also have inadequate vitamin D levels. In the UAE, 90 per cent of the population were vitamin D deficient when first tested (2009) while 82 per cent of infants were found to be lacking of vitamin D supplement (2006).

Dr Haq, who is also the Chairman of the Conference's Scientific Committee, attributed these high prevalence rates to the very hot climate which discourages outdoor activities, the wearing of abaya and burqa, lack of regulations for vitamin D fortification of food and drinks and prolonged breast feeding without vitamin D supplementation.

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