Great news if you are planning a holiday! People who take foreign breaks have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood, which has been linked to wide-ranging health benefits. Image Holidays abroad may hold the key to tackling Scotland’s vitamin D deficiency, research suggests. People who take foreign breaks have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood, which has been linked to wide-ranging health benefits. Vitamin D is known to be associated with good bone health. It has also been linked to health benefits including lower blood pressure, reduced heart disease risk and better chances of surviving cancer. Deficiency in vitamin D has been strongly linked to diseases including Multiple Sclerosis, however it is yet to be proven that vitamin D is responsible. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh surveyed the vitamin D levels of around 2000 people in Orkney – 1 in 10 of the population – as part of the ORCADES study. The team were interested to see whether widespread vitamin D deficiency in Orkney might explain why rates of Multiple Sclerosis are higher there than anywhere in the world. They were surprised to find that average vitamin D levels are higher in Orkney than mainland Scotland. Prof Jim Wilson, who led the study, said: "It was surprising to see that levels of vitamin D were not worse in Orkney, and if anything they were better than in Mainland Scotland. It would appear that poor vitamin D status, while common enough, cannot explain the excess of Multiple Sclerosis we see in Orkney." Image Farmers also have higher levels of the vitamin – which is produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight – according to the findings. The highest levels were seen in farmers and people over 60 years of age who take regular foreign holidays. Emily Weiss, a PhD student involved, said: “It was interesting to find that the traditional occupation of farming was associated with higher levels of blood vitamin D in Orkney. This may be because farmers are outside and utilising even the smallest window of vitamin-D strength sunshine." “We also found that farmers in our Orkney cohort tended to be older, suggesting that the traditional way of life is changing, leaving younger people potentially more exposed to Multiple Sclerosis risk factors such as vitamin D deficiency.” The research is published in the journal Plos One and was funded by the Shetland and Orkney Multiple Sclerosis Research Project.