Vitamin D

A lack of vitamin D is very common. One survey in the UK showed that about 1 in 5 adults and about 1 in 5 children in the UK have low vitamin D levels.

Why do we need vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus which keeps our bones, teeth and muscles healthy and strong.

Deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia (soft bones) in adults which causes bone pain and tenderness.

Where do we get Vitamin D from?

We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. It is important to balance making vitamin D with being safe in the sun - take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people get enough vitamin D from sunlight, however from October to March the sunlight in the UK doesn't contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During this time we rely on other sources of vitamin D such as food and supplements.

Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods;

  • oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and trout
  • egg yolks
  • red meat and offal
  • ‘fortified foods’ – margarines, cereals, infant formula milk

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements. Public Health England has advised that during autumn and winter everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement of 10micrograms.

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Page last updated 29 June 2022