According to a new study, vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is widespread among adolescents living in the Emirates.
In the observational study, serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D were measured in blood samples of 315 healthy adolescents from eight schools in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi Emirate (1). The study results showed that 19.7% of the participants were vitamin D deficient (concentration below 15 ng/mL resp. 37.5 nmol/L).
In addition, 45.4% had insufficient levels (below 20 ng/ml resp. 50 nmol/l). The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency varied between boys (10%) and girls (28%).
The researchers concluded that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in adolescents in the UAE is very high, particularly in females, compared to their counterparts in other developed countries where vitamin D fortified foods are available, and people use vitamin D supplements. Although the UAE and other Gulf countries have a sunny environment, skin sun exposure is low as both adult and adolescent females observe conservative dress codes that either require covering all body parts including face and hands (Niqab) or all body parts except the face and hands (Hijab). Inadequate nutritional intake of vitamin D may further contribute to low vitamin D concentrations. Therefore, vitamin D deficiency remains one of the major public health problems in this part of the world.