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Vitamin D and other supplements: the latest findings

Mark Greener investigates our changing understanding of this vital nutrient and how to use it

Rickets was the archetypal scourge of Victorian slums. But even in the 1930s, some 80% of children in London and Durham still showed rickets1. We now know why: a lack of vitamin D.

In 1919, Kurt Huldschinsky, a Berlin paediatrician, cured advanced rickets using artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. He then exposed one arm of a child with rickets to UV. X-rays showed that bone health improved in both arms. He concluded that skin irradiation released a chemical – now called vitamin D - into the blood2. Recent studies show that some supplements, such as vitamin D, support health across a growing range of diseases – but also warn that some may be harmful

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