Burqa-clad women prone to vitamin D deficiency

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 In an alarming trend, an increasing number of women from across the city who wear the burqa or observe purdah are being diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency on account of inadequate exposure to sunlight. Exposure of at least hands or feet to sunlight every day for 15-20 minutes is necessary for the vital compound to be absorbed into the body, advice doctors.


"Around 15 per cent of the body should be exposed to sunlight for around 20 minutes a day. It could be hands or feet," National Institute of Nutrition deputy director Dr N Lakshmaiah told TOI. "Otherwise supplements in the form of conventional tablets should be used regularly."

Scientists from the NIN, who are now working on a study on vitamin D deficiency, said women wearing the veil are prone to the deficiency, more than ones who do not. Studies have also been carried out in Saudi Arabia which showed deficiency levels between 76 per cent and 85 per cent among women there, NIN scientists pointed out.

City doctors also voiced concerns, pegging the susceptibility levels to around 35 per cent more than those who do not wear the burqa.

They estimate roughly 65 out of 100 patients who complain of muscle pains are those who wear the veil.

Written By: Syed Mohammed
continue to source article at timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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  1. On the other hand I heard two separate radio programs here in Canada where physicians advocated very strong measures to avoid UVA and UVB. I asked about vitamin D. One said pretty much you should be getting it by diet rather than sunlight since melanomas are rising so quickly. Australians are the ones in most trouble since they have the genetics of the north (England) with a tropical sun.

  2. Could certainly be a problem for burqa clad women in northern europe. Actually Roedy most Australians don’t live in the tropics. Melbourne is equivalent in latitude to Athens with a high proportion of people with Greek and other south european ancestry. In fact nowadays most Australians either shun the sun or are very careful in the sun.

    • In reply to #3 by finchfinder:

      Could certainly be a problem for burqa clad women in northern europe. Actually Roedy most Australians don’t live in the tropics. Melbourne is equivalent in latitude to Athens with a high proportion of people with Greek and other south european ancestry. In fact nowadays most Australians either shun…

      Well, yes, to a degree, but I am always dismayed to see so many beautiful Aussies exposing themselves totally on beaches right around the country. So “most” Aussies is perhaps not accurate.

  3. here in southern new zealand we have a disappearing ozone layer and a population of people of mainly scots heritage,although we are not tropical or sub tropical we have a high rate of melanoma .we have short cool summers just like scotland,cold winters also,but that ozone layer that protects people in other parts of the world has been destroyed in ours.in the 1950s the US Tested atomic bombs in the atmosphere in the south pacific.hence the hole.

    • I live in NZ too. Your assertions seem to be based on nothing. Where do you get these “facts”?

      In reply to #4 by kayakingkiwi:

      here in southern new zealand we have a disappearing ozone layer and a population of people of mainly scots heritage,although we are not tropical or sub tropical we have a high rate of melanoma .we have short cool summers just like scotland,cold winters also,but that ozone layer that protects people…

    • In reply to #5 by Jos Gibbons:

      Sunlight is still most people’s main source of Vitamin D because, unfortunately, there are few dietary sources of it. See here.

      Good post, Jos, and for me, the absorption of any vitamins should be from their natural source, not from a bottle of tablets.

  4. This is a real problem for immigrant women in the Nordic countries. Even pale Nordic people do not get enough D-vitamin from the sun around the year, since it’s dark during winter. And then there are e.g. Somali refugees that have darker skin, are covered from top to toe, sit at home most of the time while it’s dark outside virtually around the clock. Often they are also unaware of the importance of D-vitamin. So most of them are D-vitamin deficient.

  5. …….He said number of cases have increased in the past couple of years when patients have been diagnosed with muscle and bone pain and even dementia on account of low vitamin D intake……..

    (grips hands together to prevent self from adding a comment)

  6. How much more powerless can women get ? Strict Muslim men have caused this problem – those women Dont have a Choice to cover themselves or not, they must ! to preserve their lives from the wrath of their Men not from the sun……
    Strict muslim men promote inflicting un necessary pain on their women more than protecting them from it…
    they are actually proud their traditions……Burqa’s prevent women from having any personal identity and Its another form of imprisoning women – keeping them in the dark – literally ! Vitamin D supplements are a sad replacement of the natural source, not much of an alternative really. Most people are free to wear sun hats and sun block if they choose !

    • In reply to #13 by zengardener:

      If I were traveling in Saudi Arabia, A white burqa would be the perfect thing for me to wear.

      I burn so easily.

      I’m wildly curious if you ever had your vitamin D levels tested. I wonder if people with darker skin “need” more sunlight/vitamin D than those of us with lighter skin. Americans who are of African decent tend to have higher statistics for disease like multiple sclerosis.
      http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/350271/description/Black_women_may_have_highest_multiple_sclerosis_rates My one co-worker’s vitamin D levels were so low that they required a prescription dosage. She is part hispanic.

      • In reply to #20 by QuestioningKat:

        I’m wildly curious if you ever had your vitamin D levels tested. I wonder if people with darker skin “need” more sunlight/vitamin D than those of us with lighter skin.

        There is some evidence that all-cause mortality is higher in African Americans/Black Africans for a given low Vitamin D level. Whilst the melanin in dark skin absorbs UVB, it is present at a deeper layer of the skin than the majority of Vitamin D synthesis.

        Part of the issue with e.g. wearing a burqa, especially in immigrants to temperate countries, is the knock on effect on their children: they too are born Vitamin D deficient and don’t get enough of chance to build up their own stores. This applies to boys as well as girls.

        In reply to #7 by ArloNo:

        Good post, Jos, and for me, the absorption of any vitamins should be from their natural source, not from a bottle of tablets

        Tried cod liver oil? Out of a bottle and definitely natural :) Harriette Chick showed in 1922 that it was a nutritional deficiency that caused rickets and developed various recipes (based on fish oils) for Vitamin D supplements. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, northwest London (actually nudging the Middlesex countryside) was built with wards that had open awning-covered areas adjacent to the fields so that patients could get their daily dose of sunlight.

  7. from Wikipedia glossary of I Slam …

    “Dahri (دهري) atheist – from the root ad dahr meaning time. In Islam, atheists are seen as those who think that time only destroys, hence the term ad dahriyyah for the concept of atheism.”

    vitamin D deficiency causes dahriyyah of the mind?

  8. I came to realize that this was an issue for Muslim women when I observed a few women while I was shoe shopping. They seemed pale. I googled vitamin D deficiency amongst Muslim women and sure enough, there is an issue. There is also an issue with morbid obesity. I have yet to see a slender woman in a burka in my city. I also have a vitamin D deficiency – not as severe as some of my co-workers. Yes when you sit inside all day there is no surprise that all of my co-workers who have been tested are deficient.

  9. Wouldn’t Allah the Mighty and Merciful have thought of that if he requires women to show no skin at all for the sake of modesty? Wouldn’t he have created women with no external manifestations of gender who can grow a carapace to cover themselves, and with an ability to manufacture their own vitamin D without sunshine?

    • I remember seeing a documentary on nomadic Bedouins (sp?) and learning that both the men and women covered up. It wasn’t linked to modesty, in fact covered=wealthy, but I remember thinking it was a clever way for society to keep people from suffering burns. Unfortunately, once religion clings to ancient science that science can no longer evolve. People no longer have to cover all to avoid burns, and now Instead of a sign of wealth it is a sign of submission.

      I think so many religious traditions are based in old science, and now they are stuck. It’s a pity some have twisted into something much worse.

      In reply to #25 by Sue Blue:

      Wouldn’t Allah the Mighty and Merciful have thought of that if he requires women to show no skin at all for the sake of modesty? Wouldn’t he have created women with no external manifestations of gender who can grow a carapace to cover themselves, and with an ability to manufacture their own vitamin…

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