Chasing Sunlight

Vitamin D plays an important role in our bodies, but many people here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia still suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, 90 % of Saudis according to Arab News. Ironic, right?

Roles of Vitamin D:

  •  Helps absorb nutrients in the body.
  • Protects human bones
  • Strengthens the muscles
  • Fights diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, Type I diabetes, and the common flu.

Living in Saudi Arabia could give one the impression that it’s very easy to catch that early morning sunshine vitamin, but no. That is why according to Arab News,  Vitamin D deficiency plagues Saudis  (More than 90% of Saudis suffer Vitamin D deficiency) how did this happen?

Here are some reasons why:

1.Lack of exposure. Since we have flats/apartments here as places to stay, sunlight is mostly blocked. Here in this photo below, I had to wait around 9:30am for sunlight to actually reach me, or in this case, my newborn baby. Going down at 8am was no success because sunlight has not even reached the wall.

Sunlight around 8:30am
Sunlight around 9:20am

2.Too much exposure. The weather is not convenient for staying too long outside except for winter. It is just too hot on most months that most people go to work by car and stay in the office the whole 8 hours.

3.Culture. Is it culture or the weather? It’s not common to see women walking outside. Maybe going to the store, but that is usually done by the males in the family or the drivers, even maids rarely go outside to buy.

4.Structure. In other countries, there normally are sidewalks for people to use when walking. That’s not the case here. When you go out of the building, that’s already the street where vehicles are.

There are places however, specifically made for walking or used by people for walking, exercising and jogging. There’s even a pregnancy wall where many pregnant women are seen walking before their due dates. 🙂

Will this problem be ever solved? Some international schools here have special times wherein they allow their students to go to out in the open area of their schools just to bathe under the sun for a few minutes. Imagine that.

Of course the sun is not the only source of Vitamin D. Here are some foods rich in Vitamin D:
1) Fish: Raw fish contains more Vitamin D and cooked fish and fatty cuts contain more than lean cuts. Fish such as tuna that are canned in oil contains more Vitamin D than those canned in water.
2) Oysters: The fancy dish is a great source of Vitamin b12, zinc, manganese, selenium, cropper, iron in addition to vitamin D. People at risk of heart disease or stroke should eat this seafood in moderation.
3) Caviar: This food is the star in sushi dishes and it is surprisingly affordable, especially the black and the red ones.
4) Fortified soy products: Such as tofu and soy milk are often fortified with both vitamin D and calcium.
5) Fortified cereals: This breakfast specialty is supported with essential vitamins and nutrients. Always make sure to read the labels on the back to learn more about the product and choose the ones that have no or little refined sugars and no partially hydrogenated oils.
6) Eggs: Aside from Vitamin D, eggs are a great source for protein and vitamin B12.
7) Fortified dairy products: Those are already high in calcium, so it makes sense to fortify them with vitamin D.
8) Mushrooms: Don’t we all love them in salads, pizza, pasta and quiche? Those small vegetables obtain a high dose of vitamin D and also provide vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and copper.
9) Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil has been a popular supplement for many years and naturally contains very high levels of vitamin A and vitamin D.
10) Salami and sausages: Those are a great source of vitamin b12 and copper. Sadly, they are also high in cholesterol and sodium and so should be limited by people at risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.

Source: Arab News, Vitamin D, a must for Saudi Women

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30 thoughts on “Chasing Sunlight

  1. I feel that I have vitamin deficiency too when I became a stay at home mom because I rarely go out of the house. As in there are days na di ako lumalabas kahit sa labas ng main door. hehehe! I even bought a Vitamin D supplement at Healthy Options. 🙂

  2. I think it’s not even just in Saudi Arabia, there was a time I had a deficiency in it myself, here in Africa.
    And we usually have really hot weather so it was mostly my fault cos I’m almost always indoors 😀

  3. It’s the irony isn’t it. One might think that in a country where Sunlight is so abundant, Vitamin D should not be an issue. But then yeah, the curses of modern times that even things that are free are not free. This is an enlightening post. People don’t usually realize that these can happen in even countries like Saudi Arabia

    1. This is happening not only in Saudi ARabia, that’s true. People are too busy sometimes. The need to go out and catch some fresh air and sunlight are needed.

  4. What a great anthropological way to look at the deficiency – not just the medical reasons, but also the cultural and social reasons why women might not get enough sunshine – very interesting! In Australia, it’s also because we’ve learned to be so sun smart and wear so much sunscreen we’re not letting any of the good stuff through either.

  5. It’s so hard to believe that in such a sunny country people don’t get out of their homes to enjoy the benefits of the sun. I can only assimilate the vitamin D from the sunlight for example as my body doesn’t take it from food. But I live in a country where the sun doesn’t come out that often. 🙂

  6. I’m a type of person who is never afraid to go out under the sun, and doesn’t might that I’m having an awesome tan complexion.. So I guess I don’t have Vitamin D deficiency 🙂

    But I do wear sunscreen lotion always even indoors.

  7. Since I work at night, I don’t usually go out, so I’m not getting much sunlight as well since I sleep during the day. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to catch sunlight in KSA! But I have to agree, even hubby, mukhang di din naiinitan dun sa Riyadh masyado. hehe.

  8. This is such an interesting post. I can’t believe that somewhere with such a sunny climate like Saudi Arabia 90% suffer of vitamin d deficiency! ! Reading your explanations as to why is understand let but it’s still quite shocking. I really like how you lost the foods you can get vitamin d in. Ree Love30

  9. What an interesting and informative post! I understand your reasons why and I agree that exposure to sunlight is not the only source of Vitamin D, eating foods that are rich in Vitamin D also helps you to get your daily dose.

  10. Wow! I had no clue that 90 % of people in Saudi Arabia still suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. I had no idea! It’s true, sun is not the only source. You have a great list of solutions/ ideas. Very helpful article!

  11. I was very surprised when I read your post. I thought Saudi Arabia was a very sunny country, how could there be vitamin D sufficiency? After viewing your photos I was more surprised. Thank God that we can get our Vitamin requirments from food items.

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