Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may heal damaged hearts.

A trial on patients with heart failure found that supplements of the vitamin improved the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

Vitamin D is made in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight and it is required for healthy bones and teeth.

But many people are deficient in the vitamin. And, even though we live in one of the sunniest spots in Europe, there is still no guarantee that we are getting enough essential vitamin D.

This is because as we age the skin’s ability to manufacture vitamin D becomes less effective.

The trial, carried out in Leeds, saw 163 patients with an average age of 70 who suffered heart failure being treated with vitamin D supplements or a placebo.

In those taking the supplements the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body increased significantly.

Researchers described the results as “stunning” and the British Heart Foundation has called for longer trials to assess the results.