Image by higlu via Flickr
Went for a routine checkup recently as I mentioned the other day. One interesting result from this (apart from the news that I am going to live, apparently) was that I have vitamin D deficiency. It's not quite rickets, but the Doktor has given me some vitamin D bombs to bring me levels back up.
Why should I even bother sharing this mundane detail? Because it is apparently widespread here, so much so that health check-ups didn't used to include it as a routine test and now do. I watched others being prescribed the same supplement down at the pharmacy, so that gives us anecdotal evidence that a) there is a genuinely widespread incidence of vitamin D deficiency or, possibly b) there's a company making vitamin D supplements that pays whopping backhanders to doctors that prescribe them. Given the pills weren't hugely expensive, I'm going with a). And yes, I know I'm cynical.
Vitamin D is not, apparently, really a dietary thing. Your main source of the stuff is sunlight - it's synthesised by the skin in unfiltered sunlight and doctors recommend that you be exposed to something like 15 minutes' sunshine a day. Allowing that two minutes in the current heat and humidity would render you a gasping, sweaty heap, it's no surprise to find that we're none of us* getting enough sunlight and so many of us in the UAE and, presumably elsewhere in the GCC, have low vitamin D levels..
Low vitamin D levels won't cause you to break out in blotches or grow extra fingers, but it will over time affect the health of your bones and can lead to osteoporisis and other brittle/weak bone conditions later in life.
When was the last time you had yours checked?
* Apart from the labourers, of course, who are likely getting plenty of the stuff, although precious little else...