Vitamin D: hot air or solid fact?

Unless you're  nocturnal, then you won't have been able to escape the glorious sunshine that the country was basking in two weeks ago. Our consultants let us leave a few clinics early for 'revision' which we interpreted as light reading in the sun to "top up our vitamin D levels". I certainly felt a lot better after an ice cream on the hopsital lawn with some friends but is there really any medical benefit to our main source of vitamin D- the sunshine?

Certainly, the BBC seems to think so: as do a majority of Doctors in the North West of England? Why? well put together a very cloudy and rainy part of England (that is also very cold) and some of the more cultural traditions that do not permit skin exposure and there is a real risk of vitamin D deficiency. What do we need vitamin D for? well for a starter; calcium absorption and healthy bones, a strong immune system, mental well being and even cancer.

Someone once told me that the history of medicine tells you a lot more about modern medicine than the wards do. Well, I'll practice what they preach.... in the 1920s and 1930s, patients with Tuberculosis were sent to sanitoriums or 'Sunshine schools' to rest but perhaps there was more to this? I am not suggesting for a nanosecond that sunshine is a better cure than Rifampicin at treating TB (and you'd never get the ethics approved for that kind of thing now) but recently there has been more interest and official support from the World Health Organisation in the role of vitamin D for treating disease:

Food for thought? let's hope that it is oily fish or an egg!