By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of bones, teeth and muscles. According to an awareness campaign launched by Kuwait Medical Student Association, 56 percent of Kuwaiti people suffer from vitamin D deficiency, based on studies. The association revealed that vitamin D deficiency is important and is considered an essential factor for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from food and a key factor in strengthening immunity, preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of cancer. They revealed that there are several causes of vitamin D deficiency.
The most common cause is a lack of exposure to sunlight, explaining that the body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but many people spend most of their time indoors or use sunscreen, which can block the production of vitamin D. Those most at risk of vitamin D deficiency are those who are dark skinned, vegetarians, obese people, the elderly, pregnant women, nursing mothers and patients with liver and kidney diseases.
The association revealed that one of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency is classified into two parts: moderate deficiency, whose symptoms include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and hair loss; and severe deficiency, whose symptoms include bone pain, muscle weakness, severe joint pain and depression. Kuwait Medical Student Association said that among the most important sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, fortified milk products, liver, salmon, cod liver oil, mushrooms and nutritional supplements under the supervision of a doctor.
The study confirmed that vitamin D levels affect the bones and immunity, causing rheumatism and weakening the muscle of the heart, as well as affecting mental health and cognitive functions of the brain. Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to more serious health problems. In children, severe vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a condition that results in soft, weak bones. It has also been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon and prostate cancer.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D varies depending on age and other factors, but most people need between 600 and 800 IU per day. However, some people may need higher doses of vitamin D to correct a deficiency but too much vitamin D can also be harmful. According to study estimates, 50 percent of the world’s population suffers from vitamin D insufficiency, and there are an estimated 1 billion vitamin D deficiency cases globally.
The incidence of vitamin D deficiency has been estimated to be between 20 to 90 percent across Europe, the United States and the Middle East. Countries including Australia, India, Africa, South America, Turkey, and Lebanon have reported experiencing comparable patterns. According to research, vitamin D deficiency affects both emerging and industrialized nations.