Vitamin D is an important vitamin that keeps our bones, teeth and muscles strong and healthy. It is made in our bodies through the help of sunlight and sourced from certain foods. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults. So it’s important to get enough vitamin D in our bodies.
So what can we do to make sure we get enough vitamin D?
Good sources of vitamin D:
From about late March/April to the end of September, most of us should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to sunlight.
If you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt. Between October and early March we don’t get any vitamin D from sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
So it’s important to eat a varied and balanced diet, to make sure we are getting all the vitamins we need.
How much vitamin D do I need?
Babies from birth to one year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms (8.5-10mcg) of vitamin D a day.
Children from the age of one year and adults need 10 micrograms (10mcg) of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women. The Department of Health recommends that people should take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if they:
- are not often outdoors, such as those who are frail or housebound
- are in an institution such as a care home
- usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors