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Two new scientific studies have reinforced the importance of vitamin D, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, to our health and wellbeing.
Scientists working in Sweden and Australia have found links to suggest the introduction of vitamin D can improve pain and fatigue during cancer treatment while a lack of it can be connected to cardiovascular disease.
Earlier studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D can be associated with everything from depression, fatigue and bone health to enhanced immunity. But it is not easy for our bodies to absorb enough of the vitamin from either food or sunlight. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood is common in many parts of the world. Data from the UK Biobank reveals that 55% of participants showed a deficiency.
In the first study of its kind, researchers from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of Southern Australia have found genetic evidence linking a lack of vitamin D with cardiovascular disease.
Published in European Heart Journal, the study shows that people with a deficiency in vitamin D are more likely to suffer from higher blood pressure and heart conditions.
While in Sweden researchers at the Karolinska Institute discovered a link between pain and vitamin D after they gave palliative care cancer patients high doses of vitamin D for 12 weeks.
They then noted their use of painkillers as a way of measuring the patients’ pain and found that they had a reduced need for pain relief and exhibited fewer symptoms of fatigue.
What the NHS says:
“Everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter. People at high risk of vitamin D deficiency, children aged one to four, and all babies (unless they’re having more than 500ml of infant formula a day) should take a daily supplement throughout the year.”