Isaiah 58: 11

Isaiah 58:11

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Friday, June 6, 2014


One of the health issues that plagues hot climates is Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D, called the "sun vitamin", is absorbed through the skin and used by the body for bone development and immune function. In Canada this is an issue during the winter when people don't have as much sun exposure, so Vitamin D supplements are recommended. But this is an even bigger problem for us in Doha.
Yes, we have sun every day! The problem is that the extreme heat makes it hard to be outdoors for any length of exposure. Also the intensity of the sun rays is much less here -- maybe it is the sand in the air that prevents the UV rays from penetrating. So it takes a much longer sun exposure to provide the benefits of Vitamin D. And, because of the religion and culture, our skin is covered more extensively than when we are in Canada.

We first became aware of this health concern when Lisa was working in the hospital on an "Active Rehab" Unit. Women were admitted to the hospital for 2-3 months for illnesses related to Vitamin D deficiency -- Rickets, and osteomalacia (muscle weakness, bone pain, unable to walk). The Muslim women wear an abaya which covers their head, full arms, and full leg; some also wear face veils and hand gloves.

We became aware of this health concern in our own family a year ago when we noticed how pale and lethargic Simon was, and how he complained a lot about his back aching and his legs hurting all the time. "Normal" rates of Vitamin D are between 30 and 100 ng/mL but 'healthy"values are between 50 and 100 ng/ mL. Most doctors will work toward a Vit D value around 80 for optimal sleep and neurological functioning. Simon's first blood sample revealed Vit D level of 25 !

We started Simon on "usual" supplements of 1000 units/ day, daily 15 minutes in the sun, and daily egg or tuna sandwiches but he still couldn't get over 30 points. So we switched to 50,000 units weekly (thankfully it is available as a pill!). His most recent blood work showed his levels are 95 ng/mL.  WooHoo! He says he has never felt better!

Since Simon's experience we have all started on Vitamin D supplements (1000 units/ day). Our blood results last week showed that we all need to boost it up a bit more! Max's level is 34, Lisa's is 45, and Tim's is 36 ng/mL.  We are all increasing our supplements and looking forward to a summer in Nova Scotia -- sitting at the beach most days!

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