HOW OVERDRESSING DENIES YOU VITAMIN D
Workers and children are vulnerable as the majority spend most of their day indoors
Overdressing and spending less time outdoors heightens health risks due to vitamin D deficiency, experts have warned.
Those in the formal employment sector are the most vulnerable to this problem as a majority leave for work early in the morning (before the sun is fully out) then stay indoors until evening (after sunset) when they head back home.
Evans Amukoye, director of research and Development at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), says this problem extends to homes as parents tend to lock their children indoors — for safety and other concerns — instead of allowing them to play outside in the sun which stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body.
Vitamin D promotes good bone and dental health. It offers protection against a range of conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis whilst boosting immune systems and enhancing quality cardiovascular health and brain functioning.
Those with insufficient amounts of vitamin D suffer from bone pain, frequent fractures and soft bones that may result in deformities such as rickets among children. They may also complain of muscle weakness, unexplained fatigue and a myriad of diseases resulting from low body immunity.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun, which usually stimulates the production of the nutrient in the skin.
But since dark-skinned people have higher levels of melanin — pigment that gives human skin its colour — than white-skinned individuals, Dr Amukoye says Africans are vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency as melanin reduces the skin’s ability to produce the vitamin from the sun. It, however, offers some degree of protection against skin cancer among darkskinned people.
“We need to spend more time in the sun so as to prevent vitamin D deficiency. This is especially important for children as their bodies are still developing.”
Susan Musilu, consultant dietician, and nutritionist states that being in the sun is not enough.
“The sun’s rays have to hit your bare skin. So having a short-sleeved shirt or blouse while out of the office can help, instead of covering yourself completely.”
Indeed, a previous study showed that men were at a great risk of vitamin D deficiency as they spend time — in and outside the office — with longsleeved shirts that cover their hands as well as trousers and socks that cover their legs and feet thus blocking the sun from reaching most of their skin.
About 20 to 30 minutes daily skin exposure to the sun (in the morning or afternoon) is enough for sufficient vitamin D production.
According to Musilu, those unable to get sufficient sunshine can still get recommended amounts of the nutrient through supplements.
Other sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil as well as food products such as fatty fish, eggs, cheese, cooked salmon, beef or liver.
Vitamin D deficiency is considered as a difficult disease to diagnose.
This is because many people with the condition do not usually develop symptoms until their vitamin D levels get very low.
This has made it difficult for health experts to identify people with the condition early enough and forestall adverse health consequences.
Currently, the only method available for early detection of vitamin D deficiency is an expensive blood test that is rarely performed unless clinicians deem it necessary to do so.
But scientists have now discovered an alternative method that can address this challenge.
According to a new study published in the International Journal of Paleopathology, the researchers found that dental X-ray images (showing microscopic deformities in the dentine part of teeth) can reveal those suffering from the condition early enough before the ailment causes adverse health effects.
“Now we know which teeth to look at. If regular dental X-rays show a problem, blood tests can confirm whether there is an ongoing deficiency,” said Lori D’ortenzio, lead author of the study from Mcmaster University in Ontario, Canada.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY IS CONSIDERED AS A DIFFICULT DISEASE TO DIAGNOSE
WELLNESS Spending a lot of time in the o ice and wearing longsleeved shirts puts most men at risk of vitamin D de iciency.