From October to early March, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) in the UK are advised to take a daily vitamin D supplement.
This is because during these months we can’t make enough vitamin D from sunlight – which is the best source.
What about food?
We can get some vitamin D from foods but it is difficult to get enough from food alone. Good food sources include:
- oily fish and cod liver oil
- egg yolks
- fortified drinks and foods
- mushrooms grown in UV light
What does vitamin D do?
Vitamin D is really important for bone, tooth and muscle health. It is also involved in reducing inflammation, as well as having a role in immune function and glucose metabolism.
How much should I take?
Children over 4 and adults are advised to take a 10 microgram (400 IU) during the autumn and winter. Between late March to the end of September, most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
People at risk of vitamin D deficiency are advised to take a daily vitamin D supplement throughout the year. This includes:
- People who are not often outdoors – for example, if they’re frail or housebound, or live in an institution such as a care home
- People who usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors
- People who have dark skin
- People with medical conditions which increase vitamin D deficiency
Advice for infants and children < 4 years of age:
- Babies aged 0-1 should have a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they are breast-fed OR formula fed and having less than 500ml of infant formula a day (as infant formula is already fortified with vitamin D).
- Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.