The Abu Dhabi Annual International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency and Human Health concluded on Friday with a call for the formation of a national registry for clinical investigations in the UAE and to provide a stewardship venue for researchers in the UAE and other parts of the MENA region to connect with each other.
The experts gathered at the conference also underlined the need for creation of more platforms in the UAE and the MENA region for further discussions and sharing of scientific reports, evidence demonstrating the benefits of Vitamin D in relation to human health.
Dr Yassin El Shahat, Conference Chairman and Chief Medical Officer, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, said that the experts also suggested the exploring of effective ways to increase the Vitamin D concentration in the population in MENA countries by methods including fortifying foods including those made with flour, and vitamin D supplements.
"Vitamin D is a powerful hormone that is very important as an anti-inflammatory agent and an anti-oxidant agent in treating traumatic brain injuries and concussions. Studies that explore such potential for Vitamin D are considerably lacking in the UAE and other parts of the world. It would be very interesting to conduct relevant studies to investigate the association of Vitamin D with cerebral oedema, cerebral necrosis, morbidity, mortality, hospital length of stay, and hospital costs associated with traumatic brain injuries," he said.
"Screening for vitamin D deficiency is also justified in persons considered at risk. Standardisation of the methods employed to measure Vitamin D is a hot issue. Whenever Vitamin D sufficiency is documented, its methods of detection should be unified and adjusted," he said.
Earlier, Dr Fatime Al Anouti, Chair Scientific Committee of the conference, said that lack of awareness about the impact of Vitamin D deficiency has resulted in a high prevalence of this silent disease. She said that a person suffering from Vitamin D deficiency may not realise it because the symptoms such as like fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, and inability to focus in the beginning may be confused with symptoms of other diseases.
"After some time, it will start affecting the overall health. Studies have demonstrated a close relationship between Vitamin D and diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Osteoporosis. Therefore, it is important to focus on the symptoms from an early age," she said.
"We conducted a study a few years ago about the relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and depression among young adults. We noticed a very strong relationship between the two. But we do not know whether Vitamin D deficiency causes depression or depression causes the deficiency. A number of new studies are trying to dig into it," she said.
Dr Medhat Elsabbahy, head of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Department at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, pointed out that mood disorders and Vitamin D deficiency are strongly related.