From the sunniest part of Britain, the Isle of Wight, comes the report of a youngster suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
When Tyler Attrill did not recover from an operation on her leg, her doctors suspected that it could be a case of a lack of the sunshine vitamin. When her mother, Lisa was questioned, they discovered that she, fearing the threat of cancer would smother her daughter with factor 50 sun protection. A course of multi-vitamin tablets have brought the vitamin level to normalcy, saving her from the threat of rickets.
Professor Nicholas Clarke, of Southampton General Hospital who has examined more than 200 children from Southampton for the lack of vitamin D, compares the existing situation to 17th
century England, where poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles led children to suffer from weak and bowed bones, bowed legs and curvature of the spine that characterized rickets. He says, "This is a problem of lifestyle in children across the social classes." The disease has returned after eighty years, when it was thought to have been eradicated, because of poor diet and lifestyle.
Just 20-30 minutes of direct sunshine a day, five days a week, is necessary to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. Ed Yong, head of health information and evidence at Cancer Research UK states, "When it comes to sun exposure, little and often is best."
Experts are counseling parents not to be obsessively afraid of sunshine but allow their children out without sun lotion for at least 10 minutes three days a week. Dark-skinned communities need even more sunshine.
The secret is to find a balance.