(NaturalNews) The Scottish government has begun distribution information urging people to get enough vitamin D in an effort to reduce rates of rickets, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
The body naturally produces vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight. Moderate deficiency is believed to hamper the immune system, while severe deficiency can lead to the softening and weakening of bones and teeth.
"Vitamin D is key to maintaining healthy bones," Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said. "Young children have a high risk of deficiency and we are seeing an increase in reported cases of rickets in Scotland. These conditions are easily prevented by improving diet and taking a supplement if you are at risk. Recent research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may also contribute to a range of other medical conditions. The Scottish government are keen to continue to monitor this evidence."
The body can produce all the vitamin D it needs in only a fraction of the time it takes to burn -- 10 to 15 minutes a day is sufficient for light-skinned people.
"The problem of a lack of sun is likely more prevalent than too much sun," writes KC Craichy in the book Super Health.
"If you don't want to get melanoma, just avoid getting burned."
Because the sun is so weak during the winter in Scotland, an extra effort may be required to maintain optimum levels, especially for people with darker skin.
"We know that in Scotland the winter sun is not strong enough to provide the minimum vitamin D needed for health -- especially for those with darker skin," said Sturgeon. "A significant proportion of the U.K. population has low vitamin D levels. This leaflet aims to ensure that those at risk are aware of the implications of vitamin D deficiency and know what they can do to prevent it."