Around two thirds of the UK's population has a deficiency of vitamin D, or the sunshine drug, claims a leading specialist.
Professor Roger Bouillon, from Leuven University in Belgium, states that the majority of people should be taking vitamin supplements to help prevent the development of cancer and joint disease.
He told the European Congress of Endocrinology in Glasgow on the weekend that the European population as a whole was not receiving sufficient sunlight or eating enough oily fish; two ways to increase vitamin D levels.
"We already know that insufficient vitamin D increases the risk for osteoporosis, falls and fractures, but there is new evidence that even a mild deficiency can be associated with more tuberculosis, and some studies also suggest an increased risk for colon, breast and prostate cancer," he said.
Recent studies have shown that vitamin D is capable of increasing enzyme levels, which in turn can help fight cancer cells.
In addition, it is thought that low levels of vitamin D can bring on increased wear of knee and hip joints, leading to osteoarthritis, which affects around half of those over 60.