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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 54-60

Proceedings of the 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency

Date of Web Publication6-Feb-2013

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How to cite this article:
. Proceedings of the 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2013;3:54-60

How to cite this URL:
. Proceedings of the 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Aug 18];3:54-60. Available from:

March 23, 2012 , Rocco Forte Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Organized by:

Welcome from the Chair

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the scientific committee, it is my pleasure to invite you to attend the 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency, scheduled to be held at Rocco Forte Hotel, Abu Dhabi on March 23, 2012.

Lack of adequate exposure to the sun and vitamin D supplementation and fortification puts us at an increased risk for a number of serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, allergy, rickets, psoriasis, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer›s disease, as well as the common cold and flu. At the conference, the physicians, researchers, and scientists working in the field of vitamin D will discuss current research and clinical practices related to vitamin D. We are proud to organize and host this event that will bring high-caliber speakers and experts in the field together.

Health-care professionals will hear directly from some of the leading vitamin D experts of the world about the current vitamin D deficiency crisis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Middle East, and the rest of the world. The conference will address the role of vitamin D in pregnancy, lactation, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer, and the diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. A special lecture will be conducted on nonclassical functions and molecular biology of vitamin D.

The scientific committee has organized a comprehensive program on this topic. We hope that the conference will promote the diffusion of up-to-date scientific information and offer participants the opportunity to develop fruitful collaborations. We look forward to your participation and to welcome you on March 23, 2012 at the conference.

Dr. Afrozul Haq, Ph.D Chairman, Scientific Committee

The 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency

Upon completion of this educational activity, participants should be able to:

  • Identify the reasons for vitamin D deficiency in the United Arab Emirates, Middle East, and the world.
  • Describe issues related to laboratory measurement of vitamin D.
  • Discuss known as well as potential consequences of vitamin D deficiency.
  • Explain various biological pathways of the metabolism of vitamin D.
  • Describe the current guidelines for clinical practice and their relevance.
  • Provide a rationale for selecting vitamin D2 or D3 as supplement and dosage.

CME accreditation

The 1 st Abu Dhabi International Conference on Vitamin D Deficiency has been accredited by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi for 7.0 CME hours (CME: continuing medical education).

Certificate of attendance

The delegates who confirmed registration before the conference will receive their certificates at the end of the activity. For those who registered on-site, their certificates will be forwarded to them within a week after the conference.

Global vitamin D deficiency and its role in health and disease

Afrozul Haq, Ph.D

Senior Clinical Scientist, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.


There is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency sweeping across our modern world, and it is an epidemic of such magnitude and seriousness that is not only alarmingly widespread but the root cause of many serious diseases such as rickets, multiple sclerosis, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, tuberculosis, and heart disease. Public interest in vitamin D is rising because there is intense and growing activity in the research community in the functions and benefits of vitamin D. People living near the equator who are exposed to sunlight without sun protection have robust levels of 25- hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] above 75 nmol/L. However, even in the sunniest areas, vitamin D deficiency is common when most of the skin is shielded from the sun. Studies in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Turkey, India, and Lebanon revealed that 30 to 50% of children and adults had 25(OH)D levels under 50 nmol/L. The ability of vitamin D to bind to vitamin D-binding protein enables it to reach other districts (cells and tissues of the body) that are its target. After binding of the active form of vitamin D, that is, 1,25(OH)2D to its receptor (VDR), these effects create an environment suitable for gene transcription. Vitamin D is truly remarkable in that it plays a key role in a wide range of physiologic functions.

Analytical methods for vitamin D measurement

Laila Abdel-Wareth, MBBCh, FCAP, FRCPC, EMHCA

Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).


This presentation addresses the various challenges we face in measuring Vitamin D in the laboratory. It reviews the various analytical techniques and discusses the limitations of each technique. The issue of assay standardization is also discussed briefly as well as the candidate reference method for vitamin D measurement. The presentation concludes with the SKMC experience with Vitamin D measurement.

The role of vitamin D in reducing risk of cardiovascular disease

Prof. William B. Grant, Ph.D

Director, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), San Francisco, California, United States of America


The aim of this presentation is to make the audience aware of the benefits of vitamin D in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Included in the talk will be an overview of the epidemiological findings regarding vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the mechanisms whereby vitamin D might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the amount of vitamin D required to achieve the optimal concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Importance of vitamin D for pregnant women and developing fetuses

Prof. William B. Grant, Ph.D

Director, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), San Francisco, California, United States of America


This presentation is directed at the general practitioners and general pediatricians. The aim of this presentation is to make the audience aware of the importance of high concentrations of vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation. Included in the talk will be the benefits of vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation and the risks of low concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]. Some of the risks of low concentrations of 25(OH)D include primary cesarean section, pre-eclampsia, premature delivery, low birth weight, autism, and birth defects. The talk will discuss intake of oral vitamin D required to achieve optimal concentrations of 25(OH)D.

Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and its effect on pregnancy outcomes

Prof. Bruce Hollis, Ph.D

Director of Pediatric Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, United States of America


The function and requirement of vitamin D during pregnancy for both the mother and fetus have remained a mystery. This fact was highlighted by the Cochrane Review in 1999 that reported a lack of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with respect to vitamin D requirements during pregnancy. Unfortunately, during the past decade, only a single RCT has been performed with respect to the requirements of vitamin D during pregnancy. In this review, we will discuss the metabolism of vitamin D during pregnancy as well as the consequences of vitamin D deficiency on skeletal, nonskeletal, and birth outcomes using birth observational data and data from our recent RCT. The new RCT data strongly supports the findings of previous observational studies that improving the nutritional status of vitamin D will improve birth outcomes. The new RCT data indicates that 4,000 IU vitamin D3 per day during pregnancy will 'normalize' the metabolism of vitamin D and improve birth outcomes including primary cesarean section and comorbidities of pregnancy with no risk of side effects.

The molecular mechanisms involved in vitamin D action

Meis Moukayed, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Natural Sciences, American University in Dubai


Cholecalciferol, 1 a ,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, is a biologically important molecule for the physiological functions of several target tissues in the human body. In this presentation, the production, metabolism, and mechanisms of action of 1 a ,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 will be discussed. The genomic mechanisms of 1 a ,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 action via the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and nongenomic mechanisms of action will be explained. The molecular cross talk between 1 a ,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 signaling pathways and those of other growth factors or hormones will be discussed to elucidate the central involvement of 1 a ,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell survival.

Public health measurements in preventing vitamin D deficiency

Arwa Al Modwahi, MD

Senior Officer, School and Family Health Section, Health Authority-Abu Dhabi


Deficiency of vitamin D can result from inadequate nutritional intake of vitamin D coupled with inadequate sunlight exposure; health problems can limit the absorption of vitamin D, and some conditions might impair the conversion of vitamin D into its active element component. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults and research is underway on diseases that might be related to vitamin D deficiency.

A meta-analysis and literature review prevails that populations suffer from blood '25(OH)D' (25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels below the optimal. Studies have shown that adequate exposure of the skin to the sun does not increase the risk of melanoma as perceived in the media. Given the magnitude of the problem, public health-care and nutrition measures are important for preventive intervention.

It is recommended to undertake further measurements such as implementing a survey on food consumption, guidelines on nutrition, implementing and monitoring food fortification, initiating consumer awareness, and encouraging adequate sun exposure.

Metrological traceability key to standardization and harmonization of vitamin D

Showkat Ali Khan, B.Sc

Quality Specialist, Medical Laboratory Department, Riyadh Military Hospital, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


True and precise routine measurements of Vitamin D quantities are essential if results are to be optimally interpreted for patient care. Additionally, analytical results produced by different measurement procedures for Vitamin D must be comparable if common diagnostic decision values and clinical research findings are to be broadly applied and guidelines for clinical practice are implemented for clinical governance.

Metrology, the science of measurement, provides laboratory medicine with a structured approach to the development and terminology of reference measurement systems of vitamin D which, when implemented, improve the accuracy and comparability of the results of patients. The metrological approach is underpinned by the concepts of common units of measurement, traceability of measured values, uncertainty and commutability of measurement as seen with the development of the Vitamin D standard reference materials 971 and 2972 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC MS/MS0 reference measurement procedure developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Before the advent of the above-mentioned reference systems, traceability to the International System of Units (SI units) was not yet realized for measurement of vitamin D, and comparability of results hitherto achieved was by other, lower order standard approaches; hence the high dispersion of vitamin D results with little harmonization.

Measurements of vitamin D are at the core in health-care management of skeletal disorders and nutritional review status of the population. Scientists and pathologists should ensure that the results of patients are traceable to the highest available reference standard materials and methods. This lecture on Vitamin D introduces and illustrates the principles of metrological traceability and describes its critical importance to improving the quality of the results of patients as recommended by the Institute of Medicine. The presentation will also review current scientific analytical highlights that need to be considered to promote traceability and accuracy actively in clinical laboratories. Participation in the Proficiency Testing through the Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme, the United Kingdom (DEQAS-UK) and Proficiency Testing and Accuracy Testing Surveys of the College of American Pathologists is highly recommended.

The impact of lifestyle and dietary habits on vitamin D status among young Emiratis

Fatme Al Anouti, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic diseases among different populations worldwide. However, these relationships are still unclear and have not been explored within the population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In this study, the relationship between vitamin D, risk for depression symptoms, and Sun Avoidance Inventory/Sun Academic Initiative (SAI) was explored. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among a sample of employees working in Abu Dhabi (the capital of UAE) was first assessed and then the influence of demographic factors (age, gender, and ethnicity) on vitamin D status was examined. A random sample of 145 employees from two different major oil companies within Abu Dhabi was selected and tested for vitamin D deficiency. All participants worked indoors and reflected the multiethnic nature of the residents of Abu Dhabi. Serum levels of vitamin D [25(OH)D] were measured and depression was assessed by using the Beck Depression Inventory. Moreover, the SAI was used to assess the attitude toward sun avoidance in the context of vitamin D deficiency. There was a significant negative correlation between levels of vitamin D and sun avoidance scores (r = -0.46, P < 0.001). Sun avoidance scores were also significantly positively correlated with depression symptoms scores (r = 0.307, P < 0.001). This study demonstrated that sun-avoidance behaviors were the major risk factor for vitamin D deficiency among Abu Dhabi employees and that these were also positively associated with depressive symptoms.


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