Office workers more at risk of vitamin D deficiency

25 June 2010

Avoiding the outdoors could be putting people at risk of health problems.

Nine out of 10 office workers suffer from a lack of vitamin D due to not spending enough time outdoors.

With summer in full swing for many countries around the world it can be easy to stay cooped up in a cool building during lunch breaks, but avoiding the outdoors could be putting people at risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer.

Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada have discovered that 91 per cent of desk workers have inadequate vitamin D levels as they are only out in natural light in the morning and evenings when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. Without enough sunshine, the skin struggles to produce the vitamin through natural means.

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Overall, office staff have just two-thirds of the vitamin D levels found in gardeners and other outdoor workers, less than half of which lack enough of the essential vitamin.

Vitamin D is important when it comes to maintaining the strength of our teeth and bones, boosting the immune system, nervous system and brain and it also aids cardiovascular health and lungs health.

“Our results suggest that occupation is a major factor that may contribute to sub-optimal vitamin D levels,” co-author Dr Sebastian Straube said of his team’s findings.

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“Indoor workers spend a high proportion of their working hours indoors without sunshine exposure,” authors further stated of the results, published in the journal BMC Public Health.

“Additionally, indoor workers working conventional working hours would be expected to get their sunlight exposure during mornings and evenings, when sunlight intensity is relatively low.”

Those who don’t get enough sunlight can also top up their vitamin C levels by tucking into foods such as eggs, red meat, and oily fish, though the sun’s rays are by far the most beneficial provider. But don’t forget to slather on SPF, as while it’s good to soak up some sun, you’re still at risk of burning.

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