New research reports that the majority of adult Omanis may have deficient vitamin D levels.
The observational study measured blood vitamin D concentrations of 206 healthy participants, aged 18–55, from Muscat, Oman (1). The study results showed that almost all of the participants had insufficient vitamin D levels: 39 percent of the participants had levels below 10 ng/ml (severe deficiency), 87.5 percent had levels below 20 ng/ml (deficiency) and 98.5 percent had levels below 30 ng/ml. The blood concentrations were slightly higher in men than women.
The researchers commented that the low vitamin D levels were due to avoidance of skin exposure to sun-light, lack of supplementation and lack of dietary vitamin D. Even though no veiled women were included in the study, almost all of the women dressed in clothing that only exposed the face to the sun. The mean serum 25(OH)D values of the study population were lower than values reported for the populations domiciled in upper latitudes, which could be explained by the use of heavy clothing in Oman. The dress habits of popu-lations in more northerly latitudes allow more skin exposure to sunlight than those of Omanis. The resear-chers recommended that vitamin D deficiency be combated on a population-wide scale with a combination of better sun exposure habits, more fortified food and better supplementation habits.
The country of Oman is located 21 degrees north of the equator. Its relatively close proximity to the equator makes it possible for people to produce vitamin D from sun exposure year-round. This is in contrast to coun-tries that are further from the equator, where it’s impossible to make vitamin D during the winter due to low UVB intensity. Despite this advantage, low vitamin D levels are often reported in the Middle East, likely due to heavy clothing use and other lifestyle factors.