Where has the Sunshine vitamin gone?
In the UK through October to March the winter sunlight isn't strong enough for our bodies to make vitamin D. The body creates vitamin D through the direct action of sunlight on the skin when outdoors. It is now known that through the summer months our bodies don't produce enough vitamin D to meet our needs throughout the year, particularly in winter. It is time to take a Vitamin D supplement.
Why do we need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is important to keep muscles, bones & teeth healthy and for normal immune function.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
A lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets ('soft' bones) in children & osteomalacia in adults. Muscle weakness is thought to be a sign of deficiency.
What are the guidelines?
Breast fed babies up to 1 year 8.5-10ug daily
Formula fed babies - no need to supplement unless having less than 500ml formula daily
Children 1- 4 years 10ug Vitamin D daily (most chemists and supermarkets now sell vitamin D supplements/vitamin drops)
Children over the age of 4 & Adults 10ug daily from October to April (sunlight exposure reduced)
Pregnant, breast feeding and adults over 65 years 10ug daily all year round.
Individuals who may be at an increased risk of Vitamin D deficiency, such as those who are housebound/institutionalised, those who keep skin covered when outside or have darker skin tone (presence of melanin reduces ability to make vitamin D in response to sunshine exposure) & those on vegetarian/vegan diets are also advised to take a 10ug supplement all year round.
Dietary sources of Vitamin D
Some fish, fish liver oils, liver & egg yolks. Some foods are also fortified with Vitamin D such as cereals & dairy, but not all so read the label to check. It is difficult to get enough Vitamin D to meet daily requirements from diet alone.
The British Nutrition Foundation have produced a free resource showing dietary sources of Vitamin D and a meal plan demonstrating how to meet your daily Vitamin D requirements https://www.nutrition.org.uk