Should Redheads Take Vitamin D Supplements?

Oil in soft gelatin capsule.

A new government-commissioned health report states that everyone in the UK should take vitamin D supplements.

The report specifies a recommended daily dosage of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day considering the generally bleak British weather. Vitamin D can be obtained either through sunlight exposure or food consumption, but it’s been calculated that most diets don’t allow for sufficient vitamin D consumption.

Oily fish and eggs are among the few foods that contain vitamin D, so humans’ primary source of it is sunlight. But as we know, sunlight is not a ginger’s friend.

Don’t panic just yet though. Luckily, redheads have a superpower to help handle this inconvenience: genetics! Here to save the day, our MC1R ginger gene has the power to synthesise higher levels of vitamin D even when exposed to lower levels of sunlight. Pretty neat, right?

Which is all the better, because even if you go outside with sunscreen on like a good ginger, any potential for vitamin D generation from the sun is blocked by your sunscreen.

Once in a while however, it’s good for you to be in the sunlight unprotected by SPF, for the purpose of generating vitamin D. Not for long though; we would only recommend this during the cooler and overcast autumn and winter months when the sun isn’t at its strongest.

Around 10-15 minutes total sun exposure per day is recommended for those who are fair-skinned, ranging all the way up to a total of two hours for those with dark skin as they generate vitamin D at a much slower rate.

And remember that cloudy days count, too! Just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not there.

It is estimated that one in five adults and one in six children in England may have low levels of vitamin D. It’s used to protect your muscles and bones, and insufficient levels can lead to brittle bones and rickets in children.

For more information, read the full report



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