Stocking up on vitamin D supplements and enjoying the summer sun
could cut the risk of a host of diseases.
An Oxford University study has linked the vitamin, which is made
when our skin is exposed to sunlight, to the activity of more than
200 genes in the body.
Some of these genes are already known to raise the odds of multiple
sclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, dementia and some cancers.
Boosting levels of the vitamin could keep illness at bay, said
Expert Sreeram Ramagopalan recommends 50 micrograms a day – the
equivalent of ten multi-vitamin pills.
Britons should also make the most of the summer sun by sunbathing-without
sunscreen for 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Dr Ramagopalan, of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
at Oxford University, spoke out after showing the vitamin affects
the function of 223 genes in the body.
Many of the genes had already been implicated in disease, the journal
Genome Research reports.
Dr Ramagopalan said: ‘If you are born with these genes it does
seem that having vitamin supplements or high levels of vitamin D
could counteract their effects.
‘Considerations of vitamin D supplementation as a preventative
measure for these diseases are strongly warranted.’
Professor George Ebers, another of the study’s authors, said: ‘Rather
than arguing whether these conditions are caused by nature or nurture,
it is very clear that most of these things are actually nature and
nurture – the environment interacting with a gene.