THERE has been a dramatic increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with vitamin D deficiency, fuelling concerns that the public is not getting enough sunshine.

Data for 2017/18 shows vitamin D deficiency cases at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust soared to 3,535, compared to just 1,530 diagnoses in 2015-16.

This was one of the highest numbers seen by any trust in England, according to the NHS Digital statistics.

The vitamin helps bones, muscles and teeth, according to the NHS.

It is produced in the skin in response to sunlight and is also found in foods such as oily fish, egg yolks, and liver.

A severe deficiency of the vitamin can cause bone development disease rickets.

Blackburn with Darwen borough public health director Dominic Harrison, said the rise was due to more people not getting enough sunlight and playing on games consoles instead.

He said: “This is especially the case in the winter months.

“People aren’t getting out into the sunshine and natural environment and we’ve seen a rise in this because of social media and computer gaming.

“My advice would be for people to get more sunlight while Public Health England recommends the use of vitamin D supplements.”

Dr Umesh Chauhan, GP at Pendle View Medical Centre and East Lancashire clinical cardiovascular lead, said the main reason for the rise was increased awareness of vitamin D deficiency.

He said: “The main reason for the increase is because GPs and hospitals are more aware than ever of vitamin D deficiency, they’re doing more tests and identifying more patients at risk.

“In relation to these statistics, it’s important to point out that vitamin D deficiency is not the prime reason for these hospital admissions; the statistics are produced from tests conducted after a patient is admitted with other medical problems.”

Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire Telegraph’s health expert, said the problem of vitamin D deficiency was particularly prevalent in the Asian community.

He said: “The main reason is a lack of sunlight on the skin, so people who cover themselves up all the time such as many Muslim men and women make up the bulk of diagnoses in East Lancashire.

“Some of the foods south Asians eat also prevents the absorption of vitamin D in the guts.”