I want to draw the attention through your estimated newspaper of people. Vitamin D is essential for the human body. It cannot build bones and muscles without it and needs it for the whole body to function properly. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, but despite Pakistan being a very sunny country, over 50 percent of its population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. Deficiency can lead to weakened teeth and bones, osteoporosis, and other illnesses with common symptoms of depression and fatigue. 

As an 18-year old girl living in Karachi, I had had multiple experiences of pain in my leg muscles, for no reason. Stories like this are common in our families, especially when it comes to women. I had begun to get used to the constant pain, thinking I was just naturally weak. On a hunch, after reading some articles online and getting a foot fracture, I asked my mother to get my Vitamin D levels checked. It came out at 3 nanograms per ml. A level of 20 ng/ml is considered a deficiency and my level was only three! 

My recommendation to all citizens of Pakistan out there, especially women, is to get your levels checked. A doctor I went to was even of the opinion that there is no need to get checked, just start taking Vitamin D supplements! 

Because there is an 80 percent chance you are deficient. And research does back this up. A survey by Sobia S, Sultana M, and Farhan E (2017) of Karachi University found 82.5 percent of Karachiites to be Vitamin D deficient and research done by Riaz H et al. across Pakistan showed only 15.3 percent of a sample of 4,830 citizens had normal Vitamin D while the rest had insufficient levels, with more than 50 percent with deficiency! 

Public health strategies really need to address this issue via food fortification and other awareness strategies. On a personal level, please try to get some exposure to sunlight from 10 am to 3 pm for at least 15 minutes without a glass blockage. Take supplements after doctor’s consultation and eat fortified foods rich in Vitamin D. Be your own caretaker for a healthier and more active life. 

SHAHEENA M.YOUSUF

  

Karachi, May 29.