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Vitamin D: increasing supplement use among at-risk groups

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance that aims to increase supplement use to prevent vitamin D deficiency among at-risk groups including:

  • infants and children aged under 5
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women, particularly teenagers and young women
  • people over 65
  • people who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example, those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
  • people with darker skin, for example, people of African, African-Caribbean or South Asian family origin.


Dietary sources of vitamin D are limited. The main natural source is from the action of sunlight on skin. However, from mid-October to the beginning of April in the UK there is no ambient ultraviolet sunlight of the appropriate wavelength for skin synthesis of vitamin D.

I have asked NICE if they consider skin disease patients to be among the at risk groups. As an example, I cited those with skin conditions such as vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, and lupus vulgaris. I am waiting for their reply.

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The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.

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