LOW levels of vitamin D can trigger high blood pressure, a study has shown.

British scientists have demonstrated a direct genetic link between lacking the "sunshine" vitamin and hypertension, or high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.

The study suggests vitamin D supplements may help some patients avoid heart and artery disease.

Loading article content

It was recommended in 2011 that essential foods such as bread and milk be fortified with vitamin D in Scotland to counteract the country's high rates of multiple sclerosis, after a number of studies linked a deficiency in the vitamin – naturally produced in the body is response to sunlight – to the disease. Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.

Last year, Scotland's chief medical officer, Sir Harry Burns, also recommended pregnant women, children aged six months to five years and over-65s should take daily vitamin D drops to help with bone strength.

Last month, Edinburgh University researchers found that exposing skin to sunlight may help to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart disease.