Manchester and Carlisle among cities with lowest levels of vitamin D, study claims

South of England experiences 28 more days each year when UV rays are high enough to make useful amount of vitamin compared to Scotland

Richard Jenkins
Thursday 07 February 2019 19:16
The sunshine vitamin: Stirling has the lowest levels of Vitamin D in the UK

Stirling, Carlisle and Manchester are among the UK cities whose residents are most likely to be lowest in vitamin D this February, scientists have concluded.

A team from the University of Manchester considered factors including available amounts of vitamin D-effective UVB rays, as well as cloud cover, ozone and aerosol levels before coming to their conclusion.

In 2018, compared to those in Scotland, those living in the south of England are thought to have experienced around 28 more days when UV rays were high enough for the body to make a useful amount of vitamin D.

For this month, Carlisle is predicted to have the lowest levels of vitamin D of all the cities in England, while Bangor is expected to see the least in Wales. Stirling will likely see the lowest of all in Great Britain.

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and is needed to help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, according to the NHS.

Ann Webb, professor of atmospheric radiation at the University of Manchester, said: “The analysis we have done for the UK in 2018 confirms the overall trend that UVB in sunlight decreases the further north you go – this will have a direct impact on the ability to make vitamin D of the population at each location.

“There are many other factors that influence each individual’s circulating 25OHD, which determines vitamin D status. These include the amount of time a person spends in the sun, the colour of their skin and the amount of skin exposed, but the single greatest source of the vitamin for almost all of us comes from exposure to UVB in sunlight.”

The research was undertaken by Boots Vitamins in a bid to make the nation aware about the importance of vitamin D, after studies showed one in five adults and one sixth of children have low levels.

Although human bodies can store vitamin D accumulated over the summer, research indicates that these stores are not sufficient and health conditions affecting bones and muscles are on the rise.

To brighten up Stirling, which only enjoys 38 per cent of the vitamin D-effective UVB of popular Spanish sunshine resort Marbella, Boots Vitamins brought a pop-up beach to the city.

Locals were offered vitamin D supplements at the beach to help get them through the final weeks of winter.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Katrina Doulos, 38, who lives in Stirling and visited the beach said: “It’s not surprising Stirling was found to have the lowest levels of vitamin D. It’s always dark and dank here, we don’t see enough of the sunshine.”

“Bone density develops from birth and reaches its peak at 30 years old; from then on you cannot build up more density," said Boots Vitamins’ spokesperson Parminder Kaur. “While vitamin D is found in small amounts in certain foods such as oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, and red meat and egg yolks, it is difficult for us to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food alone, particularly during the autumn and winter months.

“This is why it is recommended by the Department of Health to consider taking a 10mcg daily supplement.”


Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments