Vitamin D deficiency plagues Saudis

Updated 05 February 2014
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Vitamin D deficiency plagues Saudis

Despite the Kingdom being among the top countries in the world in terms of exposure to sunlight, Saudis ironically suffer from a severe lack of vitamin D, of which the sun is a natural source.
This was revealed by Nasser bin Mohammed Al-Daggrey, supervisor of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah Center for Research in Biomarkers for Osteoporosis. The average sunlight in the Kingdom is an estimated 2,200 kWh per square meter, due to its location on the earth’s sunbelt.
Al-Daggrey said the importance of vitamin D lies in its ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are nutrients that play a prominent role in protecting human bones and the strength of muscles, as well help fight diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, Type I diabetes, and the common flu.
Many Saudis suffer from severe vitamin D deficiency due to lack of exposure to the sun on a daily basis. Prolonged stay indoors or in places away from sunlight, the use of shades on vehicle windshields and consuming junk food low in nutrients all contribute to this deficiency.
Al-Daggrey said vitamin D deficiency in humans is identified through various symptoms such as pain in the muscles and bones, especially in the lower back, chronic headaches, or neck pain. Other psychological symptoms that signal deficiency include depression, fatigue, increased muscle aches, sleep disorder, poor attention and concentration, memory impairment, a feeling of fear, high irritability and sexual dysfunction.
He pointed out that the best time for sun exposure to maximize vitamin D absorption is between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the winter, and between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. during the summer. The recommended period for exposure to the sun is half-an-hour, three to four days a week, he said.


UN health agency seeks to halve number of snakebite deaths

In this Dec. 14, 2018, file photo, an African Bush Viper venomous snake is displayed for reporters at the Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle. (AP)
Updated 25 May 2019
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UN health agency seeks to halve number of snakebite deaths

  • WHO’s strategy includes plans to increase global access to treatment and anti-venom

LONDON: The World Health Organization is publishing its first-ever global strategy to tackle the problem of snakebites, aiming to halve the number of people killed or disabled by snakes by 2030.
Nearly 3 million people are bitten by potentially poisonous snakes every year, resulting in as many as 138,000 deaths. Last week, Britain’s Wellcome Trust announced an 80 million-pound ($100 million) program to address the problem, saying there were new potential drugs that could be tested.
In a statement, Doctors Without Borders said it was “cautiously optimistic” WHO’s snakebite strategy could be a “turning point” in addressing snakebites.
The agency called the problem of snakebites “a hidden epidemic” and said most bites are treatable.
WHO’s strategy includes plans to increase global access to treatment and anti-venom.