Campaign to urge uptake of “sunshine vitamin.”

Health chiefs in Bradford have launched a campaign in response to the number of people suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.

More than 5,000 people, from babies to people over the age of 80, were diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency in Bradford and Airedale between 2007 and 2010 and health experts suspect there are likely to be many more.

Throughout this month people across the district will be urged to learn more about the vitamin and how to top up on it to avoid the risk of deficiency.

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Dr Merav Kliner, from the public health team at NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds, said: “Everyone needs vitamin D to make strong bones, and the good news is that there are a number of ways to get it. Vitamin supplements can help for people who are at risk of low levels of Vitamin D. But it’s also important for people to get more exposure to sunlight, making sure they don’t burn, and to eat a balanced diet including foods rich in vitamin D and calcium.

“This awareness month is a great opportunity for people at risk to learn more about the importance of vitamin D and how simple changes to their diet, or the time they spend outdoors, can make a big difference to their own and their family’s health.”

A number of community events are being held this month to help educate people about the benefits of what is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because most of the vitamin D humans need is made from sunlight by our skin.

Many people are unaware that they or their children could be at risk of vitamin D deficiency by not getting outdoors enough each day.

Vitamin D helps control the amount of calcium people absorb from their diets, and so is important to make and keep strong bones.

The national Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that up to a quarter of people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D in their blood which can lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, and at its most extreme, can cause rickets in children.