In 2016 the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (a body of independent experts that advise Government on matters relating to diet, nutrition and health) reviewed the data on vitamin D which led the NHS to make “new recommendations” for Vitamin D supplementation during the Winter months.
As a registered public health nutritionist I am somewhat concerned that this information is not widely known.
Essentially, vitamin D is an ESSENTIAL vitamin, which helps our body regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate (two more ESSENTIAL nutrients) in our body. These nutrients are needed to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. But vitamin D is also involved in our immunity, our mood, our heart health, protecting us from some cancers, type 2 diabetes and blood pressure regulation.
Between October and early March we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight. This, coupled with the fact that Vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods; namely oily fish, liver, red meat, egg yolks and ‘fortified foods’ such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals, it is difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, it is advised that everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D during the autumn and winter
The Department of Health recommends that:
- breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D to make sure they get enough
- formula-fed babies shouldn’t be given a vitamin D supplement until they’re having less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D
- children aged 1-4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D
You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for under fives) at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Alternatively you could order some right here on our shop.
(Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing the recommended amounts of vitamin D).
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight (the skin has the ability to create vitamin D from direct sunlight when outdoors).
Note: Some people won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure. The Department of Health recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if you:
- aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- are in an institution like a care home
- usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10mcg a day will be enough for most people. You should not exceed this dose without first consulting a nutritionist, dietitian or your GP.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.
If this has piqued your interest or you would like any further (FREE) advice on supplementation of vitamin D for you or a family member please feel free to contact me.