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Doctors warn sneeze can fracture your bones

DHA recommends exposure to direct sunlight to the face, arms, hands, or back for 15 minutes daily. (Shutterstock)

By Shuchita Kapur

Breaking a bone with a sneeze or a cough that seems to pull your lungs up until your throat can actually fracture your bone.

And even as it may sound an extreme case, several of us living in the UAE may actually face it thanks to the ever increasing number of people reporting high levels of vitamin D deficiency.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), Vitamin D deficiency in the UAE is at 50 to 90 per cent, which is one of the highest in the world and hence the risks.

We all know that vitamin D deficiency causes bone degeneration or osteoporosis, but if not treated, it can well turn out to be a silent killer.

Doctors at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery in Dubai say it can even cause fractures from a strong sneeze or cough and the sufferer may fracture a bone from a simple fall.

Dr. Harold Vanderschmidt at Burjeel Hospital says a person can also lose a few centimetres of their height due to compression fractures in their spine which is caused by osteoporosis, an offshoot of the vitamin D problem.

According to statistics released by Dubai Health Authority (DHA), 78 per cent of the country’s population has vitamin D deficiency and it’s highly prevalent in Emirati women.

An International Symposium on Vitamin D Deficiency held earlier in Abu Dhabi stressed the main reasons for the increasing number of people suffering from a lack of this vital vitamin. It’s primarily because of less time spent in the sun with increased use of air conditioning by remaining indoors.

Moreover, more people in the UAE and the Middle East live in a city environment, which means more indoor jobs, thus limiting the time spent out. Excessive clothing, the fear of getting tanned and not eating food that have very large amounts of vitamin D only compounds the problem.

To get rid of the problem, the DHA recommends exposure to direct sunlight to the face, arms, hands, or back for 15 minutes daily or at least 3 days a week, and without applying and sunscreen creams.

Fortified foods and beverages such as milk, soy milk and orange juice, fish (such as tuna, salmon and sardines), liver, and egg yolk are what you should be eating to achieve optimum levels.

Daily recommendation for vitamin D

Infants (from birth-1 year)           400 IU

Children (1-13 years)      600 IU

Teens (14-18 years)        600 IU

Adults (19-70 years)        600 IU

Elders (71+ years)           800 IU

Pregnant & lactating women  (15-50 years)          600 IU

Source: DHA