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Posted On: 10 September 2019 04:00 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:05 pm

9 easy tips for getting more Vitamin D in Qatar

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Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem in Qatar. Strange, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that the sun shines in Qatar almost the whole year. Sadly, though it’s true.

According to the 2019/19 report released by Qatar Biobank, a long-term health initiative lin Qatar which helps reduce the number of chronic illnesses in the population and improve the health of future generations through medical research on the causes of prevalent illnesses, approximately 88% Qataris over the age of 18 and adult expatriates who have lived in Qatar for at least 15 years have Vitamin D deficiency. That's a big number, and something needs to be done about it. Luckily, it's doable and, as individuals, we can all do our part to bring our Vitamin D levels up!

Easy tips for getting more Vitamin D in Qatar
Image credit: The Peninsula Qatar

But first, let's talk about what Vitamin D is and why it's important for our health!

What is Vitamin D and what does its deficiency mean

Easy tips for getting more Vitamin D in Qatar

Vitamin D keeps your body healthy by sustaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus. It helps your body absorb calcium and plays a vital role in forming and maintaining healthy bones. It also helps keep your muscles, nerves and immune system healthy. Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine Vitamin, because the sun is the best source for it, and when you're exposed to the sun's UltraViolet-B (UVB) rays, your skin has the capacity to produce sufficient Vitamin D on its own.

However, although there is plenty of sunshine in Qatar, the summer temperatures may reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius, so most of the people avoid going out during the daytime unless necessary and outdoor activity is limited because too much exposure to the sun in Qatar’s summer months increases the risk of dehydration and heat strokes. And, the truth is, you really can’t get enough Vitamin D unless you are physically exposed to the sun. Sunscreens also block out Vitamin D but are necessary if you are out and about in Qatar’s summer months, to avoid sunburn and even skin cancer.

Another reason people in Qatar don’t get enough Vitamin D, is that their diets don’t contain enough of this necessary Vitamin. Also, did you know, that people with darker skin, your body is less likely to absorb Vitamin D from the sun as compared to those with lighter skin tones, because of the darker pigmentation, and those who are older are also unable to absorb enough Vitamin D from the sun!?

So, what to do?

We’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you boost the levels of Vitamin D in your body and keep you healthy and happy!

Tips on how you can boost Vitamin D levels in your body

Easy tips for getting more Vitamin D in Qatar

1. Sun exposure

According to Dr. Michael Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University Medical Campus, who strongly advocates what he calls ‘sensible sun exposure’:

"If your shadow is longer than your body height, you can't make any vitamin D."

What does that mean exactly?

This would mean that, in Qatar, 10 am to 3 pm are the optimum time for sun exposure because the UVB rays are the strongest at this time of the day. If you spend 10 - 15 minutes, three times a week, in the sun without sunscreen, and expose your arms and legs, your body should be able to produce a decent amount of Vitamin D. The more skin you can expose, the better. However, people who have darker skin tones may need to stay in the sun a little longer. The amount of time you spend exposed to the sun should be based on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight. So, if you spend longer than 15 minutes in the sun and feel your skin begins to burn, immediately apply sunscreen. People who have darker skin tones may need to stay in the sun a little longer.

2. Fatty fish

Eat more fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies because these are the richest sources of Vitamin D in terms of food.

3. Calcium

Calcium complements Vitamin D and both help strengthen the bones in your body. Calcium can be found in many dairy products like cheese, milk, yoghurt, etc., leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, soybeans, white beans and tofu.

4. Fortified foods

Since there aren't enough naturally occurring foods that are rich in Vitamin D, many companies fortify (add) Vitamin D to their food products so they can provide consumers with Vitamin D. Some good examples of Vitamin D fortified foods are cereals, orange juice, tofu, certain types of yoghurt, plant-based alternatives to milk like soy milk and almond milk.

5. Egg yolks

Did you know that eggs are not only a good source of protein, but also have Vitamin D in them. The Vitamin D in eggs can be found in its yolk, so, try to use the whole egg when you want to eat it. Be careful though, the egg yolk is also high in cholesterol, so limit your intake, and complement eggs with other Vitamin D rich foods thoughout the week.

6. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the biggest plant-based source of Vitamin D and produce Vitamin D, just like humans, when exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. Wild mushrooms are exposed to more sunlight as compared to commercially grown ones (unless they've been treated with UVB lighting), so go find those wild mushrooms or UVB treated mushrooms that have been exposed to UVB in Lulu, Al Meera, Carrefour, Spar, Monoprix and other major supermarkets in Qatar, and enjoy.

7. Beef liver

Beef liver is rich in Vitamin D, Vitamin A, iron and protein, so if you're looking to increase your Vitamin D, try it out. You must be careful though, because beef liver is also high in cholesterol, so if you are suffering from high cholesterol, try another source of Vitamin D.

8. Exercise

Exercising on a regular basis helps to produce more Vitamin D.

9. Vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D supplements can be helpful, but you should never take any medication without talking about it with your doctor, because everyone needs different amounts of Vitamin D depending on their deficiency. Only a doctor can decide what that dosage would be required for you.

Have you had your Vitamin D levels checked lately? Do you find our tips useful? Do let us know your thoughts in our Comments section. Like and share the article it keeps us going!