Doctors: take 'bottled sunshine' pills

It is called "bottled sunshine" and we should all be taking more of it, doctors said yesterday.

More than nine out 10 people in the UK are deficient in vitamin D at this time of year and six out of 10 remain deficient through the summer. It can be obtained in limited amounts from a diet of oily fish, eggs, margarine and cereals but the only practical way of boosting levels is by taking a daily supplement, researchers say.

Vitamin D is made by the action of the sun on the skin, but our northern latitude and gloomy weather means we make too little. It is essential for healthy bones and skin and recent research has suggested people with low levels are at increased risk of heart disease, breast and bowel cancers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other conditions such as autism.

Speaking before a major conference on vitamin D next week, Elina Hyppönen, reader in epidemiology and public health at the Institute of Child Health, London,confirmed: "There is a problem with low vitamin D in the UK."