Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a deficiency, which can cause bone deformities and bone pain. In the spring and summer months, most people get enough vitamin D from sunlight, which is the main source of the essential vitamin. But in the autumn and winter there isn’t enough sunlight to get our daily dose, meaning many people are at risk of deficiency.
Scientists at the University of Manchester conducted research in collaboration with Boots Vitamins to find out which UK cities are most at risk of vitamin D deficiency this February.
The team considered factors including available amounts of vitamin D-effective UVB rays, as well as cloud cover, ozone and aerosol levels before coming to their conclusion.
They concluded that residents of Stirling in Scotland are most at risk of deficiency this month, when compared with cities in the whole of the UK.
Carlisle is predicted to have the lowest levels of vitamin D of all the cities in England, while Bangor is expected to see the least in Wales.
In 2018, compared to people living in Scotland, those living in the south of England are thought to have experienced around 28 more days when UV rays were high enough for the body to make a useful amount of vitamin D.
“The analysis we have done for the UK in 2018 confirms the overall trend that UVB in sunlight decreases the further north you go – this will have a direct impact on the ability to make vitamin D of the population at each location,” said Ann Webb, professor of atmospheric radiation at the University of Manchester.
“There are many other factors that influence each individual’s circulating 25OHD, which determines vitamin D status.
“These include the amount of time a person spends in the sun, the colour of their skin and the amount of skin exposed, but the single greatest source of the vitamin for almost all of us comes from exposure to UVB in sunlight.”
Boots Vitamins undertook the research in a bid to make the nation aware about the importance of vitamin D, after studies showed one in five adults and one sixth of children have low levels.
Although human bodies can store vitamin D accumulated over the summer, research indicates these stores are not sufficient to provide adequate amounts in the winter.
Research has also indicated health conditions affecting bones and muscles are on the rise, according to Boots Vitamins.
“Boots Vitamins understands we all need vitamin D to allow us to absorb calcium, to help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and a lack of it can lead to poor bone development,” said Boots Vitamins spokesperson Parminder Kaur.
“Bone density develops from birth and reaches its peak at 30 years old; from then on you cannot build up more density.
Vitamin D is found in small amounts of certain foods, such as oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, and red meat and egg yolks.
However, it is difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food alone, particularly during the autumn and winter months.
As a result, the UK Department of Health recommends everyone consider taking a 10mcg daily supplement of vitamin D in the autumn and winter.