Health benefits of vitamin D
Long known to be essential as an adjunct to calcium for strong bones and teeth, recent research suggests vitamin D is essential for healthy muscles and the immune system, and that it can help prevent allergies and juvenile diabetes.

Telegraph | April 12, 2011

Research has linked low levels of vitamin D to multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease; and a major randomised controlled US study is investigating whether healthy levels of vitamin D may reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Colin Michie, a consultant paediatrician, analysed the cases of 17 babies and infants treated at Ealing Hospital for a severe lack of vitamin D between 2006 and 2008. He found many experienced a delay in walking, a problem last common in Victorian times. His findings renewed calls for vitamin D pills to be made more widely available on the NHS, especially for pregnant women.

Giving all pregnant women vitamin D supplements could cut the number of multiple sclerosis sufferers by up to 80 per cent, research published in February 2009 found.

Scientists have proved a long-suspected link between the "sunshine vitamin'' and the debilitating disease, a finding that could prevent people developing the condition in future generations.

Women should take up to 10 times the current recommended dose of vitamin D during pregnancy to protect against premature birth, researchers have urged.

The higher dose was found to halve their chance of suffering from one of a number of problems including having the baby before term and pre-eclampsia. In Britain, pregnant women are recommended to take10 micrograms of vitamin D daily for their baby's general development.

But a team from the University of South Carolina in the US found that those given 100 micrograms daily were half as likely to suffer one of a series of pregnancy problems as those taking 10 micrograms.

Supplements of vitamin D can help young children to ward off diabetes in later life, researchers reported in March 2008.

The chance of developing Type 1 diabetes fell by almost a third in those who received extra doses of the vitamin. The disease is caused when the body destroys cells in the pancreas, which regulate insulin. It often starts in early infancy and is on the rise across western Europe.