Scotland has some of the highest disease rates in the world. In fact, the disease rates are so dramatic in Scotland compared to the rest of Great Britain, researchers call the phenomenon the ‘Scottish paradox,’ marveling as to why the rates are so much higher when the lifestyles are so similar. Does vitamin D play a role?
Readers may remember a 2005 newsletter I wrote, Paradigms and Paradoxes, but I didn’t include the Scottish paradox. Oliver Gillie, who does in Great Britain what the Vitamin D Council is trying to do in the USA, has written a wonderful paper on paradoxes, including the Italian paradox, the Swiss paradox and of course, the Scottish paradox.
Oliver points out that a Cochrane Review found in studying 94,148 people, that those taking vitamin D lived longer. So, how much vitamin D is Scotland getting? Few people take vitamin D supplements. The westerly winds bring rainy and cloudy weather to the point that northern Scotland has about 900 hours of sunshine annually (compared to southern England getting about 1700 hours). The latitude of Scotland is about 55 degrees, which means a long vitamin D-less winter. Finally, Oliver described a culinary delight that has disappeared from the modern Scottish menu: a head of cod stuffed with cod liver and oatmeal. Yummy.
Oliver also discusses the role of dermatologists as well as video games. As we know, the combination of the two makes vitamin D deficiency the rule, not the exception. Thus, like so many paradoxes, vitamin D gives a simple straightforward answer to the riddle. When will Scottish authorities act and put an end to the Scottish paradox?