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This Morning: Doctor Chris discusses vitamin D deficiency

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Vitamin D is made when the skin comes into contact with sunshine. However, we can also get vitamin D from our food intake. It has several important functions within the body, but it is primarily known for promoting calcium absorption, which makes it a vital nutrient for bone health. Symptoms of a lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

The study, published by The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, saw Surrey’s researchers conduct a systematic review of the vitamin D and dietary intakes of members of the black community across the globe.

The findings suggest that people of African descent should consider taking vitamin D supplements and consume more vitamin D rich foods.

The paper found that when looking at black individuals who live in low latitude countries (such as South American countries and South Africa), arava bei lupus there was vitamin D sufficiency. However, in those who live at higher latitudes, such as in the UK, vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency was common.

The authors of the study suggest that their findings highlight a need for public health and clinical action to improve the awareness of Vitamin D deficiency in African-Caribbean communities.

The paper highlighted that in the UK, the NHS “could include strategies to increase vitamin D intake, as well as the use of safe sunlight exposure, as appropriate”.

Further studies on the association between vitamin D and health outcomes, using larger sample sizes, is needed in this population, especially at higher latitudes.”

Rebecca Vearing, co-author of the study said: “As the majority of our vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight, for many people getting enough vitamin D may be a real challenge.”

The PhD research student at the Department of Nutritional Sciences also advised that eating a nutritionally balanced diet including foods that provide vitamin D – such as oily fish, red meat, egg yolk and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals – are key to boosting vitamin D status.

Taking regular supplements are key to boosting vitamin D status, according to the study.

These findings are supported by a second paper from the University of Surrey published by The Journal of Nutrition, where researchers studied how vitamin D supplements and sunlight exposure affect the health of Brazilian women living in both the UK and Brazil.

This first-of-its-kind study examined two groups of the same ethnic identity and sex, living in different countries in an identical way and examined whether supplements or sunlight altered the vitamin D status of its participants.

Researchers studied 120 healthy Brazilian women in parallel, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trials conducted at different latitudes in Brazil and England.

Participants were chosen randomly to receive a daily vitamin D supplement or placebo for 12 weeks during the wintertime.

Researchers found that although vitamin D dietary requirements may vary considerably between participants in each country, a moderate dose of vitamin D supplementation is a remarkably effective strategy for raising and maintaining adequate vitamin D levels over the winter months in both the UK and Brazil.

The participants with the lowest initial vitamin D levels had the most significant increases in response to vitamin D supplements.

The study’s conclusions found that the effect of vitamin D supplements is not dependent on latitude.

Dr Marcela Mendes, visiting research fellow from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Surrey, said: “Our research looks at different ethnic groups, and our findings show that people might benefit from increasing consumption of foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are fortified with it, or even taking an additional supplement, in the autumn and winter, regardless of where they live.”

A separate study, outlined by doctor Rathish Nair, discovered that African-Carribean’s absorb more UV in the melanin of their skin than white-skinned people.

Those of ethnic minorities therefore require more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency is particularly important as it is linked to high mortality rates, according to this study. Emerging research supports the possible role of vitamin D against cancer, heart disease, fractures and falls, autoimmune diseases, influenza, type-2 diabetes, and depression.

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