The study, which was conducted by researchers from both Surrey and Aberdeen Universities, found that four times as many women are deprived of the vitamin in the north-east of Scotland than in southern England.
Research involved comparing sunlight exposure between 500 women aged 55 and 70 in two locations, by asking them to wear a badge which detected the amount of UVB rays they were exposed to on a daily basis.
The results showed that 40 per cent of those in Scotland received below the recommended amounts, compared to just 10 per cent in surrey.
Experts know the reason for this to be because the sunshine in Scotland is only strong enough to provide the recommended levels of vitamin D between April and September, and are advising residents to top up their levels in other ways such as a healthy diet.
We now know that a lack of vitamin D can be a contributing factor to both seasonal affective disorder and depression and the researchers of this study hope their findings will help to highlight the need for better public advice on ways to boost vitamin D levels during the winter.
Dr Helen Macdonald, from the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences, has said that though dietary sources of vitamin D are important, the current diet of women in the UK is unlikely to be providing adequate levels.
“We need to look at appropriate guidelines regarding safe sunlight exposure, to strike the balance between ensuring adequate protection from the sun and obtaining vitamin D from UVB rays.” She said.