Coastal populations have higher vitamin D levels, finds study

University of Exeter
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New study is the first time data on sunlight and vitamin D levels have been linked to geographical information

People living close to the coast in England have higher vitamin D levels compared to those inland, a new study has found.

The research, carried out by the University of Exeter in partnership with the Met Office, is the first time data on sunlight and vitamin D levels have been linked to detailed geographical information.

Results of the study found that coastal areas tended to see more sunlight across the year, meaning local residents had higher vitamin D levels, compared to inland areas.

Researchers grouped more than 7,000 participants based on their distance from the coast and compiled detailed sunlight data from satellites and ground-based measurements.

This information was then compared to vitamin D levels in the participant’s blood.

Researcher Mark Cherrie said: “Recent research has shown that populations living close to the coast tend to have improved health and wellbeing.

“Whilst costal environments can promote physical activity and reduce stress, our study suggests that direct physiological factors could be important, with higher vitamin D levels potentially explaining some of the effects seen.”

Vitamin D has a number of important functions in the body, such as regulating the immune system.

Study lead Dr Nick Osborne said: “This study provides further evidence that your health is influenced by where you live, and that the link between vitamin D and health is complex.

“Whilst exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is an important factor for the production of vitamin D, it can also have negative health consequences.

“Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase the risks from conditions such as skin cancer and care must be taken to ensure sun protection and outdoor activities are managed safely.”

Coastal populations have higher vitamin D levels, finds study