The Secret to Boosting Vitamin D Levels? Take a Vacation

MAY 18, 2016
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
primary care, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, multiple sclerosis, MS, vitamin D, vacation, tanning, sunshineForget the supplements and start booking a foreign vacation, because new research shows that could be the very thing to boost vitamin D levels.

Besides kilts and bagpipes, Scotland is known for its gloomy weather. This spells bad news for vitamin D levels since the sun is a main source of it; so it’s not exactly surprising the vitamin D deficiency is a widespread problem in Scotland. In addition, Orkney, a group of islands off the northeastern coast of Scotland, has higher rates of multiple sclerosis than anywhere in the world. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland wanted to see if the low vitamin D levels played a role in high multiple sclerosis prevalence.

The team survey 2,000 people from Orkney and, surprisingly, found that average vitamin D levels were higher there than mainland Scotland. The highest levels were observed two populations, the first being farmers. Due to the occupation, these people are typically outside and likely soak up the vitamin D during work time. The other group making up the highest levels were people over 60 years old who take a vacation at least once a year – but not just any vacations – foreign vacations. Venturing out of the United Kingdom to somewhere sunnier proved to be beneficial on vitamin D levels. Lower body mass index (BMI), older age, and increased physical activity were also associated with higher vitamin D levels, as described in PLOS One. While everyone can benefit from additional sunshine, those who live in a particularly cloudy climate may reap the most.

“We also found that farmers in our Orkney cohort tended to be older, suggesting that the traditional way of life is changing, leaving younger people potentially more exposed to MS risk factors such as vitamin D deficiency,” Emily Weiss, a PhD student at the university who worked on the study, said in a news release.

It’s been suspected that vitamin D deficiency is associated with multiple sclerosis. However, this was yet another study that was able to confirm that.

“It would appear that poor vitamin D status, while common enough, cannot explain the excess of multiple sclerosis we see in Orkney,” concluded Jim Wilson, DPhil, FRCPE, senior lecturer in Population and Disease Genetics.

Also on MD Magazine >>> Maternal Levels of Vitamin D During Gestation May Dictate Multiple Sclerosis in Offspring

Related Coverage >>>
Copyright© MD Magazine 2006-2019 Intellisphere, LLC. All Rights Reserved.