ABU DHABI: As the UAE moves towards ensuring a healthier, longer life for all, key health players drum up awareness of the Vitamin D deficiency that affects most residents in the country.
Addressing the population’s sunshine vitamin issue, Agthia Group PJSC (‘Agthia’), one of the UAE’s leading food and beverage companies, gathered health and nutrition experts to host a scientific seminar yesterday, March 13 at the Gloria Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.
Eng. Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi, Chief Executive Officer of Agthia, said: “At the core of the UAE Vision 2021’s health agenda is a society of people who live long lives in good health. We, at Agthia, have been working for years to support the government in addressing health issues that affect the country. In line with this, the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency in the UAE has led to the launching of the Al Ain Vitamin D water.”
While the same health issue is prevalent across the world, around eight out of 10 UAE residents are found to be deficient in Vitamin D, according to Dubai Health Authority.
Dr. Ayesha Salem Obaid Al Dhaheri, Acting Dean of the United Arab Emirates University – College of Food and Agriculture, said: “In a country that enjoys year-round sunshine, a deficiency in Vitamin D, a nutrient that the body produces through ample sun exposure, is a cause for consideration. This is why it is important to take a deeper look into UAE residents’ lifestyles and understand why this is happening and what can be done about it.”
As one of the conference’s three speakers, Dr. Al Dhaheri talked about the studies she conducted on Vitamin D deficiency in the UAE. The other two resource speakers were Dr. Gamal Hamed Ibrahim, Rheumatologist at Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Centre; and Dr. Wafaa Helmi Ayesh, Director of the Clinical Nutrition Department at the Dubai Health Authority.
Not getting enough vitamin D may lead to serious and long-term complications such as osteomalacia, rickets and other bone problems and muscle weaknesses, a topic that Dr Ibrahim discussed at the seminar.
Dr. Ibrahim, who covered the treatments involved in addressing the deficiency, said: “It is high time that we address this issue by keeping people aware and by encouraging everyone to live healthier. To get enough Vitamin D, sun exposure of 10-15 minutes a day is highly recommended. This sun exposure encourages the body’s production of the vitamin nonetheless a balanced diet is also key.”
Sharing her nutrition experience on fortified food and beverages, Dr. Wafaa explained: “We have to make sure that everything we eat and drink nourishes our body, and we can do that by planning our meals carefully and choosing our product intakes wisely.”
The Al Ain Vitamin D water, which was three years in the making, is just one of the many initiatives that Agthia has lined up in supporting the UAE vision 2021, according to the Abu Dhabi-based F&B giant.
“We are committed to work hand in hand with the government and the private institutions to uplift the quality of lives of UAE residents through innovative products, and we will continue to work very hard to deliver on our commitment.” Eng. Al Wahedi said.
Agthia Group is a leading Abu Dhabi based food and beverage company. Established in 2004, the Company is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and has the symbol “AGTHIA”. 51 percent of the Company’s shares are held by Senaat (General Holding Corporation), an Abu Dhabi Government entity, with the balance held by retail and institutional investors.
The Company’s assets are located in the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. Agthia offers a world class portfolio of integrated businesses providing high quality and trusted food and beverage products for customers and consumers across the UAE, GCC, Turkey and the wider Middle East. More than 4,000 employees are engaged in manufacturing, distribution and marketing various food and beverage products: Water (Al Ain, Al Bayan, Alpin natural spring water, Ice Crystal); Flour (Grand Mills); Animal Feed (Agrivita, Agrivita Marabe); Juices (Al Ain Fresh, Capri Sun); Dairy (Yoplait). An Emerging Businesses unit includes tomato paste, frozen vegetables and baked goods among other food and non-food convenience products.