Lack of vitamin D in our diet is causing a rise in diseases such as rickets and health professionals are keen to start an awareness campaign.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a range of illnesses including rickets, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and tuberculosis; this deficiency is thought to affect one in two white Britons, 90% of those in ethnic minority communities and a quarter of all children. Thanks to the distinct lack of sunlight we receive in Britain, health professionals say intervention is needed.
Cheaper supplements should be made more readily available and more foods should be fortified with vitamin D, doctors are saying. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have revealed a fourfold increase in diseases such as rickets over the last 15 years, highlighting the need for urgent action.
Foods rich in vitamin D include:
Although eating these foods will help, they only give you around 10% of your recommended daily intake. With this in mind, health professionals are urging food companies to add vitamin D to existing products. There has been progress in this area with Kellogg's adding more vitamin D to cereals last year, but sadly not nearly enough companies are seizing the opportunity.
Mitch Blair, the officer of health and promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says, "The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends supplements for pregnant or breastfeeding women and their children from six months to four years. The chief medical officer recommends supplements for children up to the age of five and the government's Healthy Start programme provides vitamins free for people on income support, but we believe more needs to be done."
If you think you could benefit from some nutritional advice, please see our Healthy Eating page.
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