I was born in Helsinki, Finland, and have always lived here. I have been working in the vitamin D field since my Master’s thesis in 1979.
Vitamin D is a fascinating nutrient in that it would not be needed in the diet if we get enough sunshine. Rickets was common in Finland still in the 1950s when vitamin D prophylaxis of children was started. Although we have some sunlight during the winter months in Southern Finland, there is no UVB-irradiation for the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. Thus, we realised that vitamin D deficiency could be quite common in Finland in all population groups. We have studied vitamin D status in all age groups and genders in Finland, as well as in collaborative projects in Europe and in Bangladesh.
Vitamin D insufficiency is indeed very common in the world. We have focused on vitamin D status in relation to bone health and studied different ways to improve it, taking into account different food habits. Lately we have also focused on other nutrients in relation to bone health as well as vitamin D and other health outcomes. Although I have focused on mainly on specific nutrients I have always had the public health nutrition aspect as a target for our research.