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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Low Vitamin D Levels in Arab-American Women

Everybody needs more Vitamin D. Some groups are particularly at risk. The elderly and those who live in northern climates often don't get sufficiently sun, which helps create vitamin D. Others, like African Americans, don't get enough calcium because their lactose-intolerance lowers the amount of dairy they drink.

So what if you don't get much sun and don't drink much dairy? That's the plight of many Arab-American women. The largest concentration of Arab Americans is in Michigan, a northern state. Researchers there compared women who wore lighter and more revealing western-style clothing to those who wore the traditional skin-concealing garb. Both groups have serious vitamin D deficiencies, but the those wearing traditional dress have only half the vitamin D levels of the other women according to a study released by Henry Ford Hospital researchers.

Medical News Today carried their press release.

Researchers found that all 87 women involved in a small study showed vitamin D levels averaging 8.5 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) for those who wore western dress to 4 ng/mL for those who wore the hijab, modest dress with a headscarf. A healthy vitamin D level is 30 ng/mL or higher.

Also, the women consumed little dietary sources of vitamin D. Forty-seven women reported drinking any milk on a weekly basis, but the amount they consume isn't significant enough to boost their vitamin D levels, researchers say. ...

"When people live where the weather is colder and they are more covered with clothing, they depend on their diet for their vitamin D," Dr. Hobbs says. "Unfortunately, most food with the exception of oily fish and vitamin D fortified milk has very little vitamin D. The women in our study drank very little milk, fortified orange juice and had decreased sun exposure because of their dress."

Vitamin D supplements would help. So would getting more sun. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the easiest problems to alleviate. All it needs is more publicity.

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