Wearing hijab increases a woman’s risk of vitamin D deficiency, a national study has found. Conducted by the National Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics, the study found that 37.3 per cent of women had low levels of vitamin D compared to 5.1 per cent of men.
However, women who wear hijab are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D than women who do not cover their heads, according to the study, which was conducted to assess the vitamin D status of Jordanians at the national level and to identify groups of the population at high risk for vitamin D deficiency. The rate of low vitamin D was 36.5 per cent among women wearing niqab, 37.9 per cent among women wearing hijab, and 29.5 per cent among women who do not wear any head covering.
According to the study’s results, a major cause of vitamin D deficiency is inadequate exposure to sunlight. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate.
“The recommendation to avoid all sun exposure to protect against skin cancer has put the world’s population at risk for vitamin D deficiency,” the study indicated. Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency affects one billion people worldwide, as deduced from several studies. According to the World Health Organisation, five to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure of the hands, face and arms two to three times a week during the summer months is sufficient to keep vitamin D levels high.