KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 — A leading UK scientist has encouraged people to take vitamin D supplements, particularly children.
“Children today spend an hour a day less outside than they did 10 years ago. That’s the smartphone and the tablet situation,” said geneticist Steve Jones. He is a professor of genetics at University College London.
“I never thought I would be a person who would take vitamin supplements, I always thought it was absolute nonsense, it’s homeopathy. I now take vitamin D every day,” he said.
“Rickets is coming back and rickets is coming back at some speed. It is coming back because of a shift in human behaviour which we never thought would happen.” Rickets is a bone disease thought to have been eradicated in the 1950s.
Jones said the benefits of sunshine and vitamin D included dealing with obesity, mood and blood pressure.
Scotland gets the least sunshine in the UK and Scottish men have a life expectancy two years less than men in England and Wales. “The Scots are the palest people in the world … and that’s because their entire body systems are crying out for vitamin D,” he said.
Vitamin D has many effects on the body, including the immune system. “It can help tackle infectious disease, it changes mood, if you have a shortage you’re more likely to get kidney disease … it is really, really important stuff. The evidence that the shortage of sunlight has drastic effects on health is overwhelming.”
“If you lie out on the beach in your bikini, or without anything on, for an hour you will drop your blood pressure by about 10 points, because it relaxes your blood vessels. So get out in the sun while we still can.”
He also cited multiple sclerosis, common in northern Canada, and almost unheard of in tropical countries.
Jones acknowledged that too much sun can cause skin cancer.