The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) doctors have recently published a study in the American Thoracic Society in San Francisco about their research, which shows the link between supplementation of Vitamin D and improved outcomes in Asthma patients.
The study is the first-of-its-kind to be conducted in the Middle East and one of few studies in the world on markers of allergy and inflammation in the world.
Dr Bassam Mahboob, Head of Respiratory Department at Rashid Hospital, and head of Emirates Respiratory and Allergy society, and lead researcher, said: " We conducted the research on 100 chronic asthma patients and the results clearly pointed out that vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of asthma reduced their symptoms and improved their condition. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin and more and more research points out that it is linked with overall immunity."
Vitamin-D deficiency is also a contributing factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, period problems, depression etc.
Dr Mahboob said in the UAE more than 70 per cent of the population suffers from Vitamin D deficiency and while it is recommended for everyone to be aware of their vitamin D levels, those with chronic health conditions should keep a close eye on their vitamin D levels.
About 90 per cent of a person’s recommended intake of vitamin D is produced by the body in response to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. About 20 per cent of a person’s recommended vitamin D intake is derived from foods such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and milk.
Dr Anwar Al Hammadi, Director of Dermatology at the DHA, highlighted that people with vitamin D deficiency should seek medical advice to determine the right course of treatment.
"My advice would be that patients should first check their vitamin D levels, and then follow the advice of the medical practitioner. Use of vitamin D supplements, healthy diet and wise sun exposure is required to tackle this health problem. In most cases, only sun exposure will not solve the problem and the level of vitamin D is vital to decide the best course of treatment."
Dr Nada Al Mulla, Head of Medical Affairs Unit, Barsha Primary Healthcare Centre, added that the best way to get sun exposure is during off peak hours, which is between 10 am till 3 pm.
"Amount of sun exposure needed depends of the skin type as well. People with fair skin are more prone to skin cancer as they absorb the rays of the sun at a faster rate, which means they need much lesser exposure to sun, than those with tanned skin because absorption of sun rays is slower in people with darker skins. For example: A person with fair skin may need only 15 minutes of daily sun exposure to correct his vitamin D levels whereas a person with tanned skin may need 30 to 40 minutes."
She warned that sun exposure during peak hours is harmful to health and repeated sub exposure during peak hours may lead to skin cancer so it is important to seek sun exposure during off peak hours only.
Shaima Qayed, clinical dietician in Al Mizhar health centre, said fatigue, pain in joints, hair fall etc. are some of the signs of low vitamin D and that regular tests can help keep a check on vitamin D levels.
"Foods that provide vitamin D are: fortified milk, eggs, oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and tuna, fortified breakfast cereals etc. However, food cannot be the only source of vitamin D, exposure to sunlight at off peak hours and regular testing to check Vitamin D levels is also necessary."