Britain is so devoid of sunlight that everyone is being told to take supplemental vitamin D

The sun’s out… meh.
The sun’s out… meh.
Image: Reuters/Paul Hackett
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The UK’s lack of sunshine is no longer just an ice-breaker between two strangers—it may also be a health worry. The government’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has recommended that Britons should take supplemental vitamin D as a precaution.

No sun can mean a lack of vitamin D, as that is where humans get 90% of the vitamin. (You can also get it through foods rich in the vitamin—fish, milk, and eggs.) The vitamin influences more than 200 genes, and its deficiency can lead to many diseases, including heart disease, type-1 diabetes, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.

Before the SACN’s most recent report, the government already advised children under the age of five, adults over 65, and people with darker skin to take vitamin D supplements if they weren’t being exposed to enough sunlight—most likely through the UK’s long and dark winter. But new evidence, published in the last five years, has forced the SACN to widen its stance.

The SACN’s recommendation has been put out for public consultation, which ends in September. If it still stands, the recommendation will then become government advice.

The SACN is recommending Brits take a daily dose of 10 micrograms of vitamin D—available at pharmacies for less than 5 pence (8 cents) per dose. And queuing up for more of them will invariably lead to yet more chances to talk about just how bad the weather is.