A few years ago, when the Dubai Health Authority was conducting a medical study, they found that about 90 percent of the UAE population were suffering from a lack of vitamin D, despite the sunny conditions here throughout the year.
The number, they discovered was alarming, and the only way to make up for the loss of this vitamin was to use supplements. However, medical professionals have now discovered that some residents are ‘overdosing’ themselves with vitamin D, and this, they say, is a dangerous practice.
Doctors in the UAE says that an overdose of the vitamin could lead to toxicity. Like some other vitamins like A, E, and K, vitamin D is also fat soluble and does not dissolve in water. The body tends to absorb these vitamins.
“Excess vitamin D is stored in the fatty tissues of the body and is used whenever there is a need, but when one consumes large quantities, it leads to toxicity,” explained Dr. Neena Rasil, specialist family medicine, Aster Hospital, Mankhool.
“The body cannot eliminate it. Too much vitamin D in the blood leads to a condition called hypercalcaemia, which occurs when the calcium level in your blood is above normal,” added Dr. Rasil.
Overdose of vitamin D causes drowsiness, lethargy, high blood pressure, erratic heartbeats, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. “A high level of vitamin D could cause serious issues like intoxication, a disorder of consciousness,” said Dr. Mohammad Abdahadi Al Meri, specialist in internal medicine, Alsharq Hospital Fujairah.
Healthcare specialists urge the residents to keep to balance their vitamin D intake and seek a doctor’s advice before taking supplements. “We can keep vitamin D in balance by exposing ourselves to the sun, eating yogurt and cheese,” said Dr. Al Meri.
“We can take protective doses of 1000 unit/day or 10000 unit/week,” added Dr. Al Meri.
Dr. Rasil said that a daily dosage of 200-800 IU of vitamin D daily is recommended for a person according to age. “In case of a deficiency, the patient is advised to consult a doctor and take proper medication,” added Dr. Rasil.
Most residents in the UAE tend to stay indoors during the summer months because of extreme weather conditions. “In the UAE, the best time to source vitamin D is by exposing oneself to sunlight between 10 am and 3 pm (depending on the season and definitely not in the summer) at least 15 to 20 minutes a week,” advised Dr. Rasil.
However, medicos say that supplements are good only when you need it. “But we should not be taking supplements more than needed. It can cause several problems in the body. So, it is highly advisable that people consult a doctor, do proper testing, and then decide on the supplement dosage,” said Dr. Al Meri.
Dr. Rasil advised going for check-ups at regular intervals to see the rate of improvement and control the intake of supplements.