Abu Dhabi: Over 85 per cent of UAE residents suffer from Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency and the condition seems to be more prevalent during the summer season, an expert has said.

Speaking at the VPS-Penn Medicine Internal Diagnostic Radiology and Medical Lab Conference which kicked off on Thursday, principal scientist at VPS Healthcare Dr Afrozul Haq said the UAE has one of the world’s highest amounts of Vitamin D deficiency, one of the most common preventable disorders. According to his research, only 17 per cent of the UAE’s residents were found to have sufficient levels of the vitamin.

“Although I am not quite sure as to why this is, seeing that the UAE is quite close to the equator and we naturally receive 90 per cent of our Vitamin D from the sun, it could be due to a number of factors,” he said.

“Pollution could play a role as could the lifestyle choices of the country’s residents including the lack of outdoor activity. Women in the UAE have even lower levels of Vitamin D as due to religious and cultural reasons — there is a heavy use of abayas and burqas,” he added.

The two-day event was held under the patronage of Shaikh Nayhan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, who inaugurated the conference.

Vitamin D is vital for delaying the onset of osteoporosis and the regulating of the immune and nervous system and addition to having benefits for preventing cancer.

“Oddly enough, Vitamin D levels among residents in the UAE were lower in the summer and higher in the winter. This is because outdoor activity is reduced in the summer with our high dependence on ACs and cars for commuting,” he said.

Research has also shown that teenagers are the most common age group with Vitamin D deficiency.

“This is the age when bone strength should be at its maximum, instead I believe that due to the large intake of soft drinks among this age group, among other factors, deficiency of Vitamin D is very high,” he said.

When taking tablets, 10,000 IUs per day is sufficient in healthy adults and 50,000 IU tablets of vitamin D3 can be taken once per week to treat deficiency.