Vitamin D deficiency may not be a problem at all in tropical countries like the Philippines, one can assume. Filipinos get more sunlight exposure than those residing in other countries. Surely, most of its population receives a sufficient amount of Vitamin D, right? Wrong. It’s actually the opposite. In a 2014 informal study by the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine (PCOM), it was found that 3 out of 5 Metro Manila office workers are Vitamin D deficient. This rising health concern is mainly due to the “indoor lifestyle” most Filipinos have.
This is alarming since Vitamin D deficiency may lead to bone conditions such as osteoporosis, and there is evidence associating low levels to chronic diseases like heart conditions. So you better watch out!
Here are some of the most common reasons why you might be Vitamin D deficient.
- You work in an office.
According to experts, 5-30 minutes of daily sun exposure is needed to get a sufficient amount of Vitamin D. This should be anytime from 10 am to 3 pm. How can you squeeze in sun time when you work indoors from 8 am to 5 pm? Indoor sunshine exposure does NOT count because the glass blocks UVB which is what you need to make Vitamin D.
- You lather too much sunblock.
When you get your daily 5+ minute sun time, this should be without sunscreen. 90% of Vitamin D producing rays is blocked by sunscreens with SPF 8 or higher.
- You often wear pants and long-sleeved tops.
The sun should be touching most parts of your body – your arms, legs, chest, and back. Wearing pants and long-sleeved tops limits your UVB exposure.
- You live in a highly polluted city...like Manila.
Smog and pollution can also block UV energy. Shade, including that caused by smog and pollution, can reduce UV energy by 60%.
- You have an olive to brown skin tone.
Melanin is what makes your skin dark. People with darker skin require more sun time than those with fairer skin in order to generate the same amount of Vitamin D.
What You Can Do
Getting the recommended amount of sun exposure, eating food fortified with Vitamin D, as well as taking Vitamin D supplements may help reach the recommended levels of Vitamin D daily.