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The Briefing

Annual Dairy Council Nutrition Lecture at Ulster University Shines Light on ‘Sunshine Superstar’ Vitamin D

by Aiken PR


DCNI UU Nutrition Lecture


Professor Susan Lanham–New, Professor of Human Nutrition and Head of Department of Nutrition Science, University of Surrey, sparked an illuminating conversation on Vitamin D and Health: is it the ‘sunshine superstar’ or just ‘media hype’ to an audience of over 100 nutrition students, academics, and health professionals during this year’s annual Dairy Council Nutrition Lecture at Ulster University, Coleraine.

Considered a ‘unique nutrient’ as its main source is the action of sunlight on the skin, rather than diet, understanding of vitamin D’s role in health has developed extensively over the past 100 years with interest spiking during the spread of SARS–CoV–2 when vitamin D was proclaimed as the ‘magic–bullet’ “cure” across social media and online forums.

Speaking at the lecture, Professor Lanham–New told attendees the scientific data now exists to recommend vitamin D for the prevention of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections as well as influenza, but not for Covid–19.

Professor Lanham–New said: “Vitamin D is essential for bone and muscle health and regulates more than 200 genes in the human body. Vitamin D  can be found naturally in a small number of foods including eggs and oily fish; however, because summer sunshine is the main source of vitamin D for most people, taking a daily supplement in line with HM Government recommendations (400IU /d [10 μg /d in the UK), combined with eating foods that provide vitamin D, is particularly important for those who may be self–isolating or confined indoors during the summer and then for everyone during the winter since the UVB exposure from end of Sept to March is of insufficient wavelength to allow vitamin D to be made in the skin.”

Dr Mike Johnston MBE, Chief Executive of the Dairy Council which has supported the Lectures since the partnership began over 30 years ago, welcomed the expertise and timely insights of Professor Lanham–New for the event’s first in–person lecture since 2020.

Commenting he said: “After two years of virtual lectures, we were delighted to be back on campus at Ulster University for what was a fascinating deep dive into the uniqueness of vitamin D and further insights into the field of human nutrition.

“Our annual nutrition lecture is a celebration of the long and successful partnership between the Dairy Council and Ulster University, opening up the latest leading research from an international scale for academics, nutrition students and health professionals.”

This is the 33rd Lecture, and the annual event hosts a variety of leading researchers from universities around the world who deliver lectures on contemporary issues and emerging research within the field of human nutrition. Professor Sean Strain OBE, Emeritus Professor of Human Nutrition, Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Ulster University said the event has enabled access to world–leading researchers since it first began in 1991.

“The Annual Dairy Council Nutrition Lecture represents a long–standing relationship between the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland and Ulster University. The inaugural lecture took place in January 1991, followed by a second lecture held in November of the same year, and is now held annually in November or December.

“It continues to provide important opportunities to access some of the leading international researchers in the field of human nutrition and is a highlight of the academic year at the University.”