Public health strategies are urgently required to tackle low intakes of vitamin D in the UK South-Asian population, finds a new study in the journal Public Health Nutrition.
South Asians living in the UK are far from alone in getting insufficient amounts of the so-called “sunshine vitamin”. Even in Australia – a country where people typically enjoy an outdoor lifestyle with plentiful sunshine – vitamin D deficiency has reached crisis levels with up to seventy percent of people now believed to have deficient or insufficient levels. In the United States and Canada, the problem is just as widespread. Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are now thought to be deficient in vitamin D, while two-thirds of Canadians have levels below those that research has associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease.
A similar picture has emerged in Europe, where blood levels of vitamin D are known to be low in up to seventy percent of the population. Pregnant Arab women have been shown to have an “extraordinarily high prevalence” of vitamin D deficiency, with India also home to a growing epidemic of it.
Research clearly shows that vitamin D deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and increased mortality. It is also related to depression and impaired cognitive function. Notwithstanding the fact that vitamin D is just one of many micronutrients that people are getting insufficient amounts of, the fact is that government authorities worldwide continue to ignore this growing public health problem at their peril.