Scots are being urged to take daily doses of vitamin D because of a shortage of sunshine during autumn and winter.
Vitamin D helps support healthy bones and muscles, with the human body able to produce it when exposed to sunlight.
But Scotland only gets the “right kind of sunlight” between April and September, with Vitamin D deficiencies leading to a higher risk of broken bones in old age.
Food Standards Scotland has now launched a campaign to encourage Scots to take vitamin D supplements during the six months when they are unable to produce it from exposure to the sun.
Its senior public health nutrition adviser Alana McDonald said: “Most people should be able to get all the nutrients they need from a healthy, balanced diet.
“But vitamin D is an exception because it is only found in small amounts in some foods, including oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver, egg yolk, and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.
“The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
“In Scotland, we only get enough of the right kind of sunlight for our bodies to make vitamin D between April and September, meaning for roughly half the year between – October and March – it is not possible for our bodies to make vitamin D from sunlight.
“Since it is so difficult to get enough vitamin D from food, we are encouraging everyone to take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, particularly between October and March.
“You can buy vitamin D supplements, or vitamin drops containing vitamin D for under 5s, over the counter at most pharmacies and supermarkets.”
Public health minister Maree Todd echoed the advice and said: “Throughout life, vitamin D is essential for keeping our bones and muscles healthy.
“That is why we recommend that everyone in Scotland consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement, particularly during the winter months when we can’t make vitamin D from sunlight.
“Raising awareness of vitamin D and current advice on supplementation is incredibly important and I welcome this latest campaign from Food Standards Scotland.”
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