Get plenty of sunshine to increase access to all-important levels of vitamin D

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Its power to strengthen bones and muscles has been well-known for years. But now there’s increasing evidence that vitamin D may exert a positive influence over many other parts of the body.

New research has confirmed that vitamin D – known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because 90 per cent of it is made in the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight – can help lower blood pressure.

The study found that taking a vitamin D supplement led to a ‘significant reduction’ in blood pressure.

And just last week, a study by the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) lifecourse epidemiology unit found that the children of women who were deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy were fatter as they grew older than children born to women who weren’t vitamin D deficient.

The studies add to a growing body of research which suggests vitamin D may keep the immune system healthy, and reduces the risk of some cancers, while being deficient in the vitamin may increase the risk of chronic health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

However, you’re unlikely to know you have low vitamin D levels without having a blood test, as the effects tend to become apparent over the longer term. As well as the health implications currently being researched, like multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure and obesity, it’s known that vitamin D ensures people absorb enough calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy, so low levels can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

People should be aware of how to increase their vitamin D – mainly from exposure to UVB rays from sunlight and eating oily fish.