Vitamin D overtakes vitamin C to become the UK’s best-selling supplement, as Britons stock up on the ‘sunshine drug’ in a bid to cope with long and gloomy winters
- The ‘sunshine drug’ has become a bestseller after news millions are deficient
- A lack of vitamin D has been associated with a return of rickets in children
- Experts blame lack of sun exposure from children’s indoor tendencies and diet
- Older people are buying the vitamin too because it may prevent bone conditions
Vitamin D has become the nation’s best-selling single health supplement as we try to cope with long and gloomy winters.
The ‘sunshine vitamin’ – produced naturally by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun – has overtaken vitamin C, which is found in fruit and vegetables, following evidence that millions are deficient.
Vitamin D is important for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It is also said to ease depression, help reduce inflammation, ward off viruses and even halve the risk of severe asthma attacks.
Worryingly, a lack of vitamin D has been associated with a return in rickets among children.
Vitamin D (file photo of a multivitamin) has overtaken vitamin C as the nation’s favourite supplement
Experts have blamed a lack of vitamin D amongst young people on lack of outdoor play fuelled by video games (a child playing a popular game above)
Rickets, a bone disease common in Victorian times, was virtually eradicated in the 1950s. But cases more than doubled in the decade to 2016.
Experts blame the rise on reduced exposure to sunshine in early childhood due to a lack of outdoor play, and diets low in vitamin D-rich foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver.
Sales of vitamin D among the old have been boosted by research showing it can combat osteomalacia, a bone pain condition, as well as helping to prevent fractures.
Bright idea for bone health
- Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles strong.
- A lack of the vitamin can cause rickets in children, and lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone tenderness, in adults.
- Year-round supplement is recommended for those who may not get enough vitamin D from the sun, such as the housebound.
- But in winter, everyone must rely on their diet and health supplements.
- It’s found in oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.
Retail analysts Mintel said 56 per cent of those who use supplements take a multivitamin. Of those who take a single supplement, 33 per cent take vitamin D, 27 per cent vitamin C, 15 per cent vitamin B, 12 per cent vitamin A and 10 per cent vitamin E.
Mintel found that vitamin D usage has ticked upwards for all age groups, but the biggest change was among those aged 35-54 with a rise from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.
The NHS says Britons do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight between October and early March and so they should eat the right foods or take supplements.
It advises: ‘Since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing ten micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.’
Mintel estimates £442million of vitamins and supplements were sold last year, which is a rise of 6 per cent over five years.
It predicts sales will climb to £477million by 2023.
Vitamin D supplements – the ‘sunshine drug’ – are picked up by many customers in the winter period who worry they are not getting enough sunlight (Workers in London enjoying the sun in August, pictured)
Anita Winther, research analyst at Mintel, said: ‘The ongoing focus on health, both among consumers and in the public debate, is seeing people take a more proactive approach towards their wellbeing.
‘The interest in health is expected to be a major driver for vitamin, minerals and supplements sales, while the ageing population should continue to drive growth in the over-50s segment.
‘Vitamin D has proved to be a star performer in the sector, with its health benefits during the winter months continuing to be a popular topic. This will have undoubtedly helped boost usage, raising its profile.’