Do you need to supplement Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is often overlooked, and many people are unaware that deficiency is not uncommon in the UK, regardless of diet, especially during the winter!

Why do we need it?

“When we think about bone health we think of calcium, but vitamin D is just as important as it helps us absorb calcium,” explains Dr Justine Butler. “Getting enough vitamin D is particularly important under the age of 18 when most of our bone mass is established. Recent research also suggests a role for vitamin D in supporting our immune system and some evidence suggests low levels may have been a risk factor for people  who suffered from severe covid infections, although more research is needed to confirm this.”

Are we getting enough?

“Around 20 per cent of children and one in six adults in the UK have low levels of vitamin D, which can lead to rickets, bone pain and disabilities,” states Dr Butler. “We get some vitamin D through our diet, but most is made in our skin in response to sunlight exposure. In spring and summer, most people in the UK can make enough through daily exposure to sunlight for five to 25 minutes. This short time minimises the risks of sunburn and skin cancer. The lighter your skin, the less exposure time you require – ‘little and often’ is the best approach. In the winter, sunlight doesn’t contain enough of the right type of ultraviolet rays for our skin to be able to make vitamin D so we need to take a supplement.”

How much do we need?

“The Government recommends 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day,” says Dr Butler. “There are two types of vitamin D, D2 is always vegan but D3, used in many breakfast cereals, is often animal-based (from sheep’s wool), so not suitable for vegans. However, some D3 is now produced from mushrooms and lichen – this is suitable for vegans. Some companies are switching to D2 or vegan D3 to attract more vegan customers.

The best plant-based food sources include vitamin D-fortified plant milks, vegetable margarines and breakfast cereals (if labelled suitable for vegans). Also, look out for ‘vitamin D mushrooms’ grown under UV light.”

Do you need a supplement?

Yes – the Government recommends that everyone, regardless of diet, considers taking a supplement during winter. They say that those who spend most of their time indoors, cover up during the summer or have dark skin should take one all year round.

Handy tip

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, so taking supplements with foods that contain fat (half an avocado or a teaspoonful of peanut butter) will help you absorb it better.

Find out more on the Viva! website.

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4416 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.