It has been estimated that three million Brits each year could avoid coughs and colds by taking Vitamin D tablets.
We know we get vitamins from the sun’s rays – but are there enough hours of sunshine in Huddersfield to keep us all healthy and ward off colds?
Or should we join the queues at the chemists and health shops to buy Vitamin D supplements?
We’ve taken a look at how much sun we need to produce enough of the vitamin - and whether Huddersfield’s not-so-sunny skies are delivering enough.
Here’s a guide to Vitamin D - and how to get it.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin is not actually a vitamin.
The form of Vitamin D we’re talking about is a steroid hormone produced in the skin from cholesterol when it is exposed to ultraviolet light.
Why do I need it?
It keeps our bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet.
And if don’t get enough?
A lack of Vitamin D causes bone weakness. One of the most common symptoms in acute cases is bowed legs, known as rickets.
Deficiency results is bone pain and tenderness.
And according to a study at Queen Mary University, London, a deficiency is linked to respiratory problems include colds, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia.
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How do I get it?
In most cases we get our Vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Other forms of it can be found in oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and fortified foods such as certain cereals and spreads.
How much exposure to sunlight do I need a day?
You can produce enough Vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with your forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, particularly from 11am to 3pm.
The darker your skin the longer you will need to spend in the sun.
So is there enough sun in Huddersfield to stop me getting ill?
For most of the year, yes. Huddersfield may not be known for its cloudless skies but for most of the year it gets more than enough sunshine to stop your becoming Vitamin D deficient.
There was an average of 50 hours' sunshine in Huddersfield for Decembers between 1981 and 2010. That’s an average of 1hr 37min sunshine per day in the darkest month of the year. Obviously going and standing outside in shorts and a t-shirt during the cold month’s sporadic sunshine spells may not be practical. That’s why it’s important to eat plenty of foods with Vitamin D.
In July there was an average of 172.5 hours of sunshine, equivalent to 5hrs 34min per day, according to the Met Office weather station in Birchencliffe.