The aridity of the Arabian desert means the Gulf region suffers from a shortage of numerous natural resources, among them rainfall and fresh produce. But sunshine? Well, that we have in abundance.
The GCC region boasts one of the driest climates in the world, with an average of over 3,500 hours of sunshine per year, more than enough to satisfy even the most hardened heat seeker. Yet despite this wealth of warmth on offer, studies show that 78% of the Middle Eastern population currently suffers from Vitamin D deficiency.
Responsible for balancing our bone calcium levels and enhancing our ability to fight off illness, Vitamin D is acquired primarily through exposure to sunlight. Yet despite having infinite access to its principal source, the Middle Eastern population boasts worrying low levels of the stuff, a likely result of our instinctive aversion to the crippling desert heat.
So how do we fix this? Head out into the desert for a day of voluntary crisping? That might indeed do the trick, but throws up a further set of complications that are probably best avoided.
In fact, there are plenty of sun-free ways to inject Vitamin D back into your system. Here are a few tips to get you back on track:
Whilst those occasional smoke breaks you take during the day might expose you to more sunshine, they’re also inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D. So if you want to avoid potential complications like chronic fatigue and weakness, it’s time to ditch the nicotine.
Obesity – another huge issue currently facing the Gulf region – is also a major inhibitor of Vitamin D. Fat tissue absorbs and stores Vitamin D, depriving the body of many of its benefits, and reducing its viability within the blood stream. So get out there and get active, and you’ll soon start to feel infinitely healthier as this vital vitamin starts coursing its way through your veins.
EAT FATTY FISH
Fish laden with healthy fats – the likes of salmon, mackerel and tuna – pack a hefty Vitamin D punch, with just one serving of salmon providing up to two thirds of our recommended daily D intake. So if soaking up the sun really isn’t your thing, head for the seafood aisle in your local supermarket.
D FOR DAIRY
Many brands of cow’s milk are fortified with Vitamin D, and contain enough of the stuff per serving to keep you well topped up. Some soya and rice milks are also fortified with Vitamin D, but it’s best to check the label to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily dosage.
If all of the aforementioned suggestions sound like too much of a hassle, you can also get your daily dose of Vitamin D in pill form. Supplements are widely available, and come with minimal risks attached. However, it’s best that you consult your doctor before embarking on this course of action, as an overdose of Vitamin D can be toxic.