Low levels of vitamin D can be harmful to your health

Government figures show one in four Britons is low in vitamin D

A leading arthritis charity is urging people to soak up the sun and protect their bones after government figures suggest a quarter of the population have worryingly low levels of vitamin D.

The risks of deficiency include bone loss, poor muscle function and an increased risk of fractures, as well as multiple health problems.

Although small amounts of the vitamin are found in meat and oily fish, around 90% of vitamin D comes from sun exposure.

The lack of winter sunshine combined with our increasingly indoor lifestyles means many of us are likely to be deficient, particularly young children and those who are pregnant, have naturally darker skin or are over the age of 65.

Vitamin D can be stored in the body, so get out in the sun while you can urges Dr William Marshal, a biochemist at The London Clinic.

‘You need to get out in the heat of the day, exposing your face and arms for 20 minutes, three times a week, without sun cream.’

Many people fear skin cancer, however according to Dr Marshall there is a big difference between the amount of exposure you need to make vitamin D and that which will cause cancer.

Levels can be checked with a blood test and if you can’t get into the sun three times a week, there are supplements available.

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