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.
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.
If you want to read more articles about Vitamin D in Saudi Arabia, here are some helpful links:
- Vitamin D Plagues Saudis
- Vitamin D, a must for Saudi Women
- Vitamin D deficiency in children in Saudi Arabia