In many parts of the world, summer is an anticipated experience. We welcome the sun, great outdoor temperatures, beaches and barbeques. This for us on the other hand, sounds like the winter we are anxiously waiting on in the UAE. For many of us after the pandemic, we were excited to fly out this summer. Now as you are returning to the UAE in the peak of summer, or for those who were sticking it through, let’s take a moment to explore the sunshine vitamin – Vitamin D.
When the temperatures soar to 50o and the sandstorms hit, we tend to stay indoors in the comfort of our air-conditioned offices and homes. This leads us to have less sun exposure and even when we are outdoors with the thick blanket of dust in our skies, the benefits of the sunlight tend to miss us. Our skin naturally makes Vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun, but the amount made varies depending on several factors:
- Skin pigmentation
- Time of day
- Position on the earth
- Use of sunscreen – which can decrease the amount of vitamin D produced but remains important to use
Why is Vitamin D important in the first place?
This sunshine vitamin works like those magical rings Sonic the Hedgehog uses to transport himself from one place to another. In this example, Sonic is CALCIUM and the ring is Vitamin D. Our body will only absorb Calcium when Vitamin D is present and as we know Calcium is important for good bone health. Vitamin D interestingly has other benefits. It holds anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties that helps support our immune systems and muscle functioning.
How do I get this vitamin that is good for me?
Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, which are also good for increasing good cholesterols in our body and improving our heart health. As this is such an important vitamin, certain foods such as milk and cereals have also been fortified with Vitamin D so these can be good sources.
If you are in doubt however as to how much vitamin D you are getting, it is important to ask for a vitamin D test when doing your yearly health check-up. As we are approaching the peak of summer, checking your Vitamin D levels at the end of August and in September is a good idea to determine how much of the sunshine vitamin your body lacks. Depending on this result, your doctor may prescribe smaller supplemental doses for maintenance or prescribe high dosages for replacement.
Vitamin D can also interact with certain medications and cause its availability to be increased or decreased in the body. Even if you aren’t on any medication, it is possible to overdose ourselves with vitamin D if we are self-prescribing. Some symptoms of overdose are constipation, nausea, kidney stones and heart rate problems. Therefore, it is important to learn more from a medical expert so you can ensure you are doing what is best for your health.
We at Medi Sense Clinic, believe in prevention and wellness as key components of Occupational Health.
Let us know how we can help you.
Dr. Farah Ahmed, General Practitioner and Corporate Wellbeing Consultant