freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger The rise and rise of the sunshine vitamin | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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The health news story that caught my eye today is about how being born in the spring may increase your risk for developing the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. According to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, babies born during March to June are 15 percent more likely to develop anorexia – and okay, while a 15 percent increase of what is already a relatively small risk may not amount to much (and it’s certainly not something that riskfactorphobes with a spring birthday should be even remotely bothered about), when you consider that those born in September and October are 20 percent less likely to become anorexic (another of the study’s findings), then you have to admit there may be something interesting going on here.

So what is going on exactly? The researchers, from Oxford University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, no less, say that a number of factors are at play, including what women eat when they are pregnant, what seasonal bugs are going around while you’re pregnant and – of course – the weather. Specifically the amount of sunlight a pregnant woman is exposed to during her final trimester. In other words, if you’re not exposed to much sunlight during the last three months of your pregnancy, your baby could have a higher risk of becoming anorexic when they’re older.

It all boils down to vitamin D, of course – the vitamin that’s produced in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Now that really is interesting, as low levels of vitamin D is also associated with a number of other health problems including heart disease and high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, insulin resistance, allergies, cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease and cancer (to  name just a few that have been written about recently).

Experts are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of vitamin D – which makes the fact that 60 percent of us (in the UK, that is) are deficient by the beginning of spring, thanks to the lack of sunlight during the typical British winter – a rather significant statistic. The only way of keeping your levels high when sunshine is in short supply, however,  is to take a supplement. Government health experts already know this. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition states that a significant proportion of the UK population is low in vitamin D, with at-risk groups including pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, the elderly, and black and ethnic minority groups. As a result, the Department of Health recommends vitamin D supplementation for the at-riskers.

But did you know that? Well I didn’t either, not until a dietician told me about it, that is. Given that so much is being discovered about vitamin D and how important it is for our health, don’t you think health experts should be shouting its praises – and the real need for supplementation in many people –  from the rooftops?

The problem may be that taking supplements is, quite frankly, frowned upon by the medical profession. I’m generalising, of course. But where vitamin D is concerned, shouldn’t they be making an exception?