Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise not only in the U.S., but in the United Kingdom as well. According to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), half of the UK’s Caucasians, up to 90 percent of multi-ethnic populations, and one-fourth of children are vitamin-D-deficient. Healthcare rates will likely follow, as deficiency in this vitamin has also begun to result in climbing rates of tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, not to mention the resurgence of rickets, which became rare at the close of the 19th century.
“People can only get a fraction (10 percent) of their recommended daily amount of vitamin D through food and very little from sunlight,” says RCPCH’s Officer for Health Promotion, Professor Mitch Blair. “So getting out in the sun more or eating more oily fish isn’t going to solve the problem. Lack of vitamin D is related to a plethora of serious illnesses in children and adults that could be prevented through relatively simple steps such as taking supplements.”
When Food and Sunlight Aren’t Enough
While there are plenty of natural sources of vitamin D—and it’s best to mix and match on a daily basis to balance nutrition—sunlight is by far the most expedient and affordable source. In dreary locations and climates like the UK, however, the sunshine vitamin is admittedly scarce. Relying on diet alone can be tricky, too. Two sardines, for example, contain enough vitamin D to fulfill the United States’ Food and Drug Administration’s daily recommended dose (12 percent), but the FDA’s recommendation is a very low number, 400 international units. Most natural health professionals agree that optimum health is achieved with between 5,000 and 8,000 IU daily—something unfeasible for many UK residents without supplements, especially in a time when many fish are loaded with mercury.
Remedying Vitamin D Deficiency
On December 15th, the RCPCH launched a new campaign to remedy the UK’s vitamin D deficiency, which includes:
- A public awareness program, a reminder to healthcare professionals of the signs of vitamin D deficiency
- Increasing the availability of high quality yet affordable supplements
- Exploration of the pros and cons of vitamin D fortification in food, such as the US practices.
Vitamin D comes with a wonderful menagerie of health benefits, including but not limited to proper brain development in children of pregnant mothers, cavity prevention exceeding fluoride use, and even reversal of multiple sclerosis. There is also a link between vitamin D and cancer prevention.
If you suspect that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, consider more time in the sun or investing in a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement.