Health experts have long advocated that having a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits is ideal for a healthy body. However, a new study, conducted in the United Kingdom, says that regular intake of vitamin D supplements can also help provide necessary nourishments, especially for people living in places with inclement weather.

Vitamin D is an essential nourishment that allows the body to properly absorb iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphate from food sources. It helps prevent people from suffering health disorders such as rickets and the weakening of the bones.

The vitamin is derived through the food that people eat but it can also be obtained through exposure to sunlight through a process known as dermal synthesis.

Deficiency in the necessary vitamin, however, is often observed especially in people in the UK as the country does not get exposed to enough sunlight because of bad weather.

While young children and pregnant women have been identified as the most at risk to this vitamin deficiency, members of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) have released a new set of health guidelines to benefit those people who might have the condition but are not yet aware of it.

The new SACN guidelines were developed after researchers from the government body examined the connection between the levels of vitamin D in the body and the development of various health problems such as type 1 diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, musculoskeletal health and cancer.

The existing guidelines require people who belong to at-risk groups, such as older people over 65 years old, young children up to five years old, pregnant women, people with darker skin tones and those who do not receive enough exposure to sunlight, to take vitamin D supplements daily.

If the draft recommendations by the SACN are to be adopted, it could extend the requirement to include the entirety of the population in the UK.

Vitamin D expert Dr. Adrian Martineau at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry said that the new SACN recommendations could represent a "sea change" in public perception regarding vitamin D deficiency.

He said that before the release of the SACN report, the general idea is that adults already receive all the necessary vitamin D they need from sunlight exposure, and that they no longer need to take regular vitamin supplements.

Martineau explained that the effects of sunlight on human skin depend on a number of variables, such as the person's location and the time of year. It is also affected by the color of the person's skin and the amount of sunlight exposure he or she receives.

He added that it was right for the members of the SACN to say that people in the UK cannot rely on sunlight exposure to provide them with enough vitamin D for their needs.

The SACN will release their final recommendations on the new guidelines in 2016, but until then, the current guideline will remain in effect.

Photo: Colin Dunn | Flickr 

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