A balanced diet was thought to be enough to fulfill the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals, but a draft of British government guidelines suggests the sun-starved population should take vitamin D supplements regularly. Government health advisers say since the British weather prevents people from basking in vitamin D from the natural sunlight, they should compensate for it by taking the supplement.

The scientific advisory committee on nutrition, or SACN, made the recommendation after studying the connection between the vitamin D levels and the different conditions that can result due to deficiency, including multiple sclerosis, heart disorders, cancer and musculoskeletal disorders.

The government guideline suggests people belonging to the high-risk group -- including seniors, pregnant women, children younger than 5 and those with dark skin -- should take a vitamin D supplement daily. The BBC reported the draft recommendations could lead to formulation of a new health government guideline.

“SACN was right to say that we can’t rely on sunshine in the U.K. to meet the vitamin D requirements. That’s a major and important change. It’s a big step forward that this is now officially recognized,” said Dr. Adrian Martineau of the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

According to a recent report published by the Public Health England, nearly one in five British citizens has a vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin is important for the health of the bones and teeth.

Vitamin D deficiency leads to osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. The best source of the vitamin is sunlight, and it naturally occurs in only a few foods, including eggs and oily fish.