More than 490,000 Arab Americans reside in southeast Michigan, the largest population anywhere outside the Middle East. For the study, researchers looked at Arab-American women in the city of Dearborn, a southeast Detroit suburb in which Arab Americans comprise one third of the 100,000 population.
Sunlight exposure is the single most important factor in producing vitamin D in the body. For example, sun bathing for a period of time will produce 10,000- 20,000 international units, a measure of vitamin potency, or the equivalent of 100 glasses of fortified milk.
For the study, researchers recruited women who attended an ethnic supermarket in Dearborn during the course of two Saturdays in April 2007 to search for correlations with dress, diet, use of vitamin D-fortified foods and vitamin supplements. They were interviewed to assess dress, medical history, medication use, clinical symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency, consumption of fortified milk or fortified orange juice and vitamin supplements. Blood samples also were taken onsite and analyzed for levels of vitamin D and parathyroid hormone and other minerals.
Dr. Hobbs says Henry Ford is launching an awareness campaign to educate the Arab American community in Dearborn about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and offer options for addressing the problem.
Researchers theorize that Arab American women avoid milk because of reported higher incidence of lactose intolerance in their population.
"Our goal is to help them understand that by taking these preventive measures now, they can avoid serious health problems in the future," Dr. Hobbs says
|Contact: David Olejarz|
Henry Ford Health System