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Combating coronavirus: How to get your daily dose of Vitamin D while staying home in UAE.

Summary: The fat-soluble vitamin plays an important part in protecting against multiple health issues.

(Alamy Image)

While #StayHome is important to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, it can 'compound' the percentage of vitamin D deficient population in the UAE, which as per 2017 study by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is around 90 per cent.

However, medical experts have solutions to offer so that the community after fighting coronavirus doesn't fall ill for other health problems linked to vitamin D like osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, depression, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and weight gain.

Dr Hanan Sheikh Ibrahim, staff physician, primary care - internal medicine, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, underlined that fat-soluble vitamin plays an important part in protecting against multiple health issues.

"The best way to get the needed vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. It has been suggested that a large number of the UAE residents are deficient in vitamin D, something that is being compounded by advice to stay at home," Dr Hanan said.

Standing out in the balcony or opening window and catching some sunlight are best ways to make up for lack of vitamin D. "Staying at home is vital if people are to protect themselves and their community from Covid-19. In order to get enough vitamin D, people can spend some time in the sun in their garden or their balcony if they have one," Dr Hanan noted.

Nutrients through diet One of the best ways to get vitamin D in your diet is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups including fortified foods. "Vitamin D is present in oily fish, mushrooms, eggs and dairy products. It is recommended to seek out vitamin-fortified foods where possible, provided they do not have any unhealthy additions such as sugar to boost your intake," Dr Hanan said.

"A final option is vitamin D or cod liver oil supplements. Cod liver oil, in particular, has been shown to help balance cholesterol in the body and protect against cardiovascular disease," she added.

Boosts immune system

Dr Nadine Aoun, clinical dietician at the Medcare Women and Children Hospital, Dubai, said vitamin D is important to enhance the immune system.

"Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. Vitamin D helps calcium build strong bones, help regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system. It plays a major role in life cycle human cells," Dr Nadine said.

"Vitamin D is synthesised by the body when it gets sufficient exposure to sunlight. This is the problem now so one must focus on having vitamin D from food sources. Vitamin D doesn't occur naturally in many foods. That's why certain foods have added vitamin D. In fact, newer food nutrition labels show the amount of vitamin D contained in a particular food item."

Dr Nadine pointed out that when diet alone is not sufficient usually vitamin D supplementation is prescribed after doing a blood test, which happens only in case of severe vitamin deficiency.

Vitamin D rich foods

> Beef liver > Cheese > Egg yolks > Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon > Foods fortified with vitamin D like dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals

Ashwani Kumar

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Author:Ashwani Kumar
Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 18, 2020
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