A large number of Irish people may need to take vitamin D supplements after new research found that fair skinned people who burn easily may not be making enough of the so-called sunshine vitamin in their bodies.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, but is present in very few foods. It is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is made in the body when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin.
However, UK researchers have found that very fair skinned people may not be able to spend enough time in the sun to make adequate amounts, while also attempting not to get sunburned.
The team from the University of Leeds checked the vitamin D levels of some 1,200 people. Over half were found to be lacking in the vital nutrient and those with pale skin tended to have the lowest levels.
"Fair skinned individuals who burn easily are not able to make enough vitamin D from sunlight and so may need to take vitamin D supplements. This should be considered for fair-skinned people living in a mild climate, like the UK, and melanoma (skin cancer) patients in particular," said lead researcher, Prof Julia Newton-Bishop.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Cancer Causes & Control.
Earlier this year, the HSE, Department of Health and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland advised the parents of babies under 12 months of age to give their infants a daily vitamin D supplement.
They said that babies need this daily supplement because their delicate skin cannot be safely exposed to the sun and because their diet alone does not provide enough of the vitamin to ensure healthy bone growth. For more information on this, click here
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