What is vitamin D?
Often referred to as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is found in two forms; vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) found in plants & some fish and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) synthesised in the skin by sunlight.
Why do we need it?
Vitamin D strengthens bones and teeth by aiding the absorption of calcium & phosphorus and contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
Where do you get it?
Sunshine is the main source! Food sources include oily fish e.g. sardines and salmon (check out my Creamy Salmon Pasta Recipe), egg yolks, red meat and fortified foods such as cereals.
Supplements – if you’re already taking a multivitamin check the amount of vitamin D on the label (should be 10 μg), a separate vitamin D supplement such as D3 10 μg tablets from Holland & Barrett or supermarkets. Oral sprays are also available; BetterYou have daily vitamin D oral sprays* which are fast-absorbing and are up to 2.5 times more effective than vitamin capsules.
How much do you need?
Breastfed babies from birth to one-year of age should be given an 8.5-10μg daily supplement, however, formula-fed babies don’t need a vitamin D supplement as formula milk is fortified with vitamin D, once they are consuming less than 500ml infant formula a day then introduce a vitamin D supplement.
Children aged 1-4 years old
Children aged between 1-4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10μg of vitamin D. You may be able to get free supplements via the Healthy Start Scheme.
Between October to early March Public Health England recommend that children over 5 years old and all adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should take a 10μg supplement.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, a supplement shouldn’t be necessary as most people can get enough vitamin D via sunlight and a balanced diet.
Supplementation all year round is recommended for those who aren’t outdoors often e.g. housebound or in a care home and also for people with dark skin from African, African-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds.
What are the signs of deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency signs include bone & teeth problems alongside tiredness, fatigue, seasonal affective disorder, colds, coughs and low mood.
NHS – Vitamin D
Healthy Start – Healthy Start Vouchers
Consult with your GP before taking any supplementation. Supplement amount may depend on your own individual circumstance. A blood spot test can measure vitamin D levels. BetterYou in collaboration with Sandwell and Birmingham NHS Trust have an affordable home test kit* to test your vitamin D levels.
PHE – New advice on vitamin D
SACN – Vitamin D and health report
*This blog post was written in collaboration with BetterYou for #NationalVitaminDAwarenessWeek in 2017. All views are 100% my own and I only recommend products I would use myself. 2 vitamin D oral spray were gifted to me in exchange for a blog post. This blog post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclaimer here.