Saudi Arabia: Vitamin D Deficiency Among Women

 

According to a recent article in the Saudi Gazette, a study conducted by a team of specialists from King Saud University revealed that 80 per cent of Saudi females suffer from Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D deficiency is not something which should be ignored. It can cause kidney and liver diseases, loss of hair in women, bone pain and muscle weakness, palpitations, sleeplessness, weak memory and general weakness.

The main cause of vitamin D deficiency is a lack of natural sunlight.  One can take Vitamin D supplements but natural sunlight is the best and healthiest source of vitamin D.

So why are so many women in Saudi Arabia suffering from a lack of vitamin D in a country which is abundantly full of sunshine?  The conservative Kingdom requires that when women go out from their residence they must cover at a minimum from shoulder to ankles in a black abaya.  In addition to the abaya, the majority of Saudi women choose to wear a hijjab which covers their hair and a niqab which covers all but their eyes. The social lives of Saudi women generally start after dark which further limits their exposure to sunlight.

It is typical for most Saudi homes to have a privacy wall around the entire home.  Inside of the walls there is generally at least one courtyard which is open to the sky.  However, Saudi women either start their day by late afternoon, have commitments which keep them inside or do not have an interest or desire to be outside.

The Saudi culture does not place the same emphasis on spending time outdoors as do other cultures and especially so for the women.  It is hoped that with the rising generation of Saudi youth there is a better understanding on the importance for women to get exposure to sunlight.

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30 Responses

  1. “..CHOOSE to wear a hijjab which covers their hair and a niqab which covers all but their eyes.”

  2. “…CHOOSE to wear a hijjab which covers their hair and a niqab which covers all but their eyes???”

    CHOICES FOR WOMEN IN THE LAND OF…

  3. I am not sure it is a choice either. Peer preasure and matawa’s are there to remind them that they should be covered. It is in my opinion the women want to be lighter; that comes from all the products for sale that will make them lighter at the grocery stores and pharmacies. Being out in the sun works against this.

  4. @Blooming in the SAnd..i didn’t get what u were trying to say..but i just realised use talking about skin lighting..and i totally agree..
    some ppl don’t realise is most of arab world especially the gulf because their skin in naturally darker.. they are obsessed with light skin…we in the west may think that to be wierd cos were always getting tanned but its a real big sign of beauty in asian countries. Its not all peer pressure for them to cover..

  5. Shouldn’t a Islam value the health of the people over 7th century ideas of morality? I guess not.

  6. I can’t believe they spent money on a study.This information can be found with a Google search. I am grateful to be living on a secured compound where I can dress as I please. I am also grateful I have a women’s health doctor in the Us who suggested I spend 10 to 15 minutes daily outdoors without sun screen. He suggested this 10 years ago.

  7. @jerryM…if saudi women want to get sun they can get plenty of it and have plenty of time to do so..I know many saudi women who after fajr (sun rise) take all the children and go to the roof top of their home for some time to soak in the sun and when ever they get a chance to go to the desert they defiantly take advantage of it.
    Bedouin women would never of had this problem as they were always out in the sun helping their family on the farm..sans abaya and hijab and guess what jerry they were muslim then..big shock..times have changed tho..hardly no more bedouins left so ppl live a very sedentary lifestyle in saudi. Staying up till late..sleeping during the day time..so basically most wake up mid arvo and its def too hot to go outside then..so environment is a huge factor. Islam defiantly promotes the opposite; to take advantage of the sunlight and rest at night..many saudi seems to do the opposite.
    Maybe its not something they think is so serious..i didn’t realise till reading this it could cause so much damage to the body if not taken care of..i get sun burnt so easily but i def gotta be getting my 10-15 mins of sun a day too from now on.
    One last thing… blaming it on Islam is such a weak argument btw.

  8. Children trafficking is justified by Saudi religious men and Saudi judicial system. This practice must be banned and nations that permit it must be banned from the community of nations and declared savage.

    Since Crown Prince Naif is in charge of the religious men and their system, he should declare child marriage illegal and those who practice it must be forced to wear a badge of shame labeled child molesters. Or simpler and better yet, pass a law that forbids marriage under the age of 18 and a 1/2. http://international.daralhayat.com/ksaarticle/324325

  9. @Bella-Vita

    The way Islam is practiced in Saudi Arabia has women covered by black tents. Perhaps in other countries Muslims get enough sun. Given the importance of Islam to Saudi society one might think they really understand it.

  10. I live in Australia and close to a mosque. My local GP found that not only the muslim women had a Vitamin D deficiency but also the fair skinned Australians were presenting as Vitamin D deficient. Like my husband and I. I am so far a melanoma survivor from sun damage. We have been in the sun for swimming, tennis, walking etc. Lots of sun. Its not only Saudi women.

  11. @JerryM…i get what ure trying to say but women don’t wear abaya and hijab 24/7 in-fact a lot of saudi women don’t venture out of the house all that much especially if they are housewives. At the end of the day we all have our cultural practises..some that even go against our religion but we still do it..but what we need to realise is that culture and religion are 2 totally different things. But i agree with ure last sentence and it could be applied to any country and religion around the world…:)

  12. religion is a cultural artifact and one cannot divorce any religion from the culture in which it is lived.

  13. Vitamin D is also lacking in women in the USA so I do’t think it really has much to do with how the women dress or if they go our of the house. Maybe is is something that should be added to foods like in USA the add it in milk.

  14. JdH is correct. MOST people are low on vitamin D and everyone should take vitamin D supplements.

  15. crantode – it has everything to do with how the Saudi women dress and/or go outside. I seldom saw Saudis sitting outside in the courtyard at any time let alone when the sun was out. We do need some sunlight and vitamin D deficiency can be found everywhere but in places where people are covered up and don’t go outside it’s especially important. Even the concept of needing any kind of vitamins is not stressed in many parts of the world.
    One thing I liked about Sudan is that the courtyards are used and people go outside often during the day.

    Some studies say that Vitamin D is over-hyped right now. It’s a fad so whether or not everybody needs it is questionable but it is certainly needed for many and especially for dark-skinned people who are living in colder climates where they are not outside very much. Dark skin doesn’t absorb Vitamin D from the sun as easily as light skin.

  16. Wendy – the reason I say this is because women in the USA are also lacking vitamin D and it is also true of men. so since these women and men are out in the sun there maybe something else that is causing the body to not absorb this needed vitamin. It is a shame that woman do not get the sun light on them and that dark skin people do not absord it as well as light skinned people, but then on the other hand less skin cancer. Only trying to pointout something positive (lol). I had to take vitamin D supplements so I don’t know what the cause is. Maybe there is a suplus of the vitamin pill they need to get rid of. (joking only joking)

  17. EVERYBODY benefits from Vitamin D. Before I left the states to live in Dubai, my doctor prescribed a bazillion units of it! I never did get the prescription filled because that dosage was so hard to find. (I was NOT wearing a tent in the states). Anyway, spent lots of time in the sun in the courtyard w/my coffee & thoughts and I guess I’m good to go. NOW, in Saudi, if women wanted to sit out in their yards in their bikinis, no problem. The privacy walls would seem to actually encourage it!

  18. The importance of health of women, who are the caretakes of all the members of the family should be realized. But at the same time these women should come forward to seek health and healthy living practices. I feel Saudi women themselves confine themselves by all means.

  19. Crantode – I understand that but it is worse in countries like KSA where women are basically forced to be inside or covered. The dietary reasons should also be investigated as sunlight is not the only source of Vitamin D. It is one of the best sources however. I take Vitamin D and my dark skinned husband takes double the dosage.Many Japanese and Chinese avoid the sun. I don’t know if they are vitamin D deficient but they do eat lots of fish and foods high in Vitamin D.
    Here’s an article on the top 10 foods containing Vitamin D.
    http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/10-foods-containing-vitamin-d/

  20. In the US I think it is the suntan lotions that prohibit the absorbtion of the sun rays. Especially if you get to 50 or 100 percent SPF.

  21. I think Saudi Government shall make sun bathing facilities for ladies only, this may help.

  22. Saudi Arabian government should think of making sun bathing facilities for ladies only.This may help

  23. @ blooming, you are correct. Sunscreen has been so hyped that people will not go outside without it. That is why my doctor said to spend 10 15 minutes a day outside without sunscreen.

  24. If you lie in the sun with or without sunscrenyou are at risk . Be careful many thought that the sunscreen would prtect them from skin cancer only to find ou that it was not so. It is of course better than nothing but be careful. If your skin is darker you have a natural protection (nature is great ) but still protect yourself.

  25. DEr Bella in the USA they use to call sun bathing on a roof tar beach a lot of sun burns back then. Not a good thing to do

  26. DUH??? of course they got insufficiency of vitamin D !! these poor women are covered from head to toe when they are in public!! is all men’s fault!!! let them drive, let them wear what ever they want!! I know several women from Saudi Arabia and most of them wished they wear regular cloth outside their homes!! What is the point of buying beautiful fashionable cloth to wear inside their homes if they cannot wear them out!!! If Saudi women go to the beach they cannot show any skin, a little sun won’t hurt them, actually it will help their health. Wake up Saudi women!! is not man’s world!! is a women’s world!!

  27. DUH??? of course they got insufficiency of vitamin D !! these poor women are covered from head to toe when they are in public!! is all men’s fault!!! let them drive, let them wear what ever they want!! I know several women from Saudi Arabia and most of them wished they wear regular cloth outside their homes!! What is the point of buying beautiful fashionable cloth to wear inside their homes if they cannot wear them out!!! If Saudi women go to the beach they cannot show any skin, a little sun won’t hurt them, actually it will help their health!

  28. Salaam alaikhoum and eid mubarak. I believe that there has been quite some medical discussion on this. A slight query. “Saudi women wear a niqab which covers all but their eyes.” I thought that a niqab (especially in saudi) is normally worn with an eye-screen veil (or two) to cover the eyes also! Am I correct?; and I have also come across a revert lady (married to a pakistani) and living here in england; that had three eye-screen veils on her niqab. Is this a rarity or do some niqabs have this level of eye-coverage,- or if they are a particularly strict conservative family, more. I do know some have a drop down mesh as well as two veiling layers, but I am talking actual layers of eye-screen veils here? I look forward to any clarification of this for me. Maasalaama, Amelia

  29. I see lots and lots and lots of eyes in KSA. Not all women wear the niqab either but certainly the majority do.

  30. Hi Amelia,

    Many of my own Saudi family members would choose to wear a veil but this was generally in Makkah. Yet there are women who also choose to veil regardless of where they are. I have seen a double veil but not to my knowledge a triple view. Your friend sounds more conservative.

    Best Regards, Carol

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