On the road to sufficient Vitamin D levels for South Asians in UK 

On the road to sufficient Vitamin D levels for South Asians in UK 
Courtesy: Codrut Evelina / 500px | 500px Via Getty images

The UK’s health service has launched a new review to promote the importance of Vitamin D and identify ways to improve intake across the population, especially among those most likely to be deficient such as South Asians.

Dr Tazeem Bhatia, Interim Chief Nutritionist at OHID, said: “I welcome this call for evidence as part of OHID’s continued drive to improve health outcomes and tackle health disparities.

“We want to improve the dietary health of the population and this includes supporting everyone to maintain sufficient Vitamin D levels to support strong and healthy bones and muscles.”

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Vitamin D deficiency is linked to rickets in children and bone pain and muscle weakness in adults. A call for evidence, launched over the weekend by the UK's Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), kick starts a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of Vitamin D and gather views from the public, public health experts, retailers, food manufacturers and other industry bodies on ways to improve uptake and tackle disparities.

According to official estimates, around one in six adults and almost 20 per cent of children in the UK have Vitamin D levels lower than government recommendations. Older people, the housebound and people from black and South Asian communities are more likely to have lower levels of the vital vitamin, according to research.

The latest OHID review comes ahead of the health disparities white paper due to be published later this year, which will set out action to reduce health disparities between different places and communities and address their causes, so that people’s backgrounds do not dictate their prospects for a healthy life.

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In the UK, people obtain the majority of Vitamin D from sunlight on their skin during the spring and summer, as dietary sources of Vitamin D are limited. Current health advice in the country is for all adults and children to consider taking a daily 10 micrograms supplement of Vitamin D between October and March. Some at-risk groups are advised to consider taking a supplement throughout the year. However, uptake is low with only one in six adults reporting taking a daily supplement.

The call for evidence for the country-wide review will last for six weeks and aims to consider how to improve the population’s Vitamin D levels, particularly among at-risk groups.

OHID said it will engage with representatives from major retailers, pharmacy and health organisations, patient groups and bodies representing people from at-risk groups to support the national awareness campaign.

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