The Gulf region is blessed with an abundance of sunlight all year long. For example, Saudi Arabia gets an estimated 2,200 kWh (kilowatt hours) per square metre per day of sunlight due to its location on the earth’s Sunbelt. However, there’s a high prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency in the GCC due to several reasons, including prolonged stays indoor.
The vitamin is important as it absorbs calcium and phosphorus, which are nutrients that play a prominent role in protecting human bones and the strength of muscles. Vitamin D also helps fight diseases like colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, Type I diabetes and the common flu as it invades bacteria and viruses. Vitamin D is important to the body in many other ways as well. Muscles need it to move, for example and nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part.
Vitamin D deficiency in humans is identified through various symptoms such as pain in the muscles and bones, especially in the lower back, chronic headaches or neck pain. People who get too little vitamin D may even develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Other psychological symptoms that signal a lack of Vitamin D include depression, fatigue, increased muscle aches, a sleep malady, poor attention and concentration, memory impairment, a feeling of fear, high irritability and sexual dysfunction.
As well as exposing ourselves to sun everyday, early in the morning and late in the afternoon, we can take supplements to help ensure we are getting the essential dose of vitamin D our bodies need. However, it’s also extremely important to eat a diet rich in the much-needed vitamin. This becomes even more important as we get older because as skin ages, it is less and less able to absorb vitamin D from the sun so it has to be attained from foods and supplements. Here are some of the best vitamin D-rich foods:
Raw fish contains more Vitamin D than the cooked variety and fatty cuts contain more than lean cuts. Fish such as tuna that is canned in oil contains more Vitamin D than if it is canned in water.
This fancy dish is a great source of vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron, as well vitamin D. However, people at risk of heart disease or stroke should eat this seafood in moderation.
The star of sushi dishes is surprisingly more affordable than people think, especially the black and red types.
Fortified soy products
Tofu and soy milk are often fortified with vitamin D and calcium.
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 cereals that have little or no refined sugars and no partially hydrogenated oils.
Aside from vitamin D, eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin B12.
Fortified dairy products
These are already high in calcium, so it makes sense to enrich them with vitamin D.
Don’t we all love them in salads, pizza, pasta and quiche? This versatile vegetable contains a high amount of vitamin D and also provides vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and copper.
Cod liver oil
Cod liver oil has been a popular supplement for many years and naturally contains very high levels of vitamins A and D.