Your one-stop guide to vitamin D

Public Health England (PHE) published new advice on vitamin D in 2016, highlighting that an intake of 10 micrograms of vitamin D is needed each day by everyone to help maintain the health of bones, teeth, muscles and the immune system, especially during the autumn and winter months.

With this in mind and to coincide with the launch of our brand new Ultra Vitamin D formula, we’ve put together a simple guide to the vitamin D advice and what this means for you and your family.

Our one-stop guide contains all the information you’ll need to make great choices when it comes to getting enough vitamin D, all throughout the year.

Vitamin D – Understanding the basics…

Did you know: The bulk of our vitamin D is synthesized in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun.

The most common way that the human body makes vitamin D is through natural sunlight – which is why it’s often nicknamed the sunshine vitamin.

Why have the vitamin D guidelines been strengthened?

Following this review and evidence from research, the government has taken steps to review and strengthen its advice and recommendations surrounding vitamin D.

In a change to previous vitamin D advice this is the new advice in a nutshell:

  • A reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older.
  • An RNI of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day for pregnant and lactating women and population groups at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
  • An intake of 8.5 to 10 micrograms per day for all infants from birth to 1 year of age.
  • An intake of 10 micrograms per day for children aged 1 to 4 years.

Vitamin D and the changing seasons

Vitamin D in the spring and summer

Throughout the year, the amount of vitamin D we produce in our bodies varies. During spring and summer it is much easier to get enough vitamin D via exposure to sunlight, combined with a healthy and balanced diet.

Time in the Sun – How long do I need to spend in the sun to get enough vitamin D?

Our bodies are very efficient at processing the sun’s UV rays into vitamin D, which means you really don’t need to spend hours exposed to the sun. The general advice here is to spend between 10 and 20 minutes in the sun, with both arms and legs exposed to get enough vitamin D.

One thing to note, is that using a high factor sunscreen can inhibit the way that the sunlight is absorbed by the skin.

Vitamin D in the autumn and winter

With shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight, it can be more difficult to achieve enough vitamin D through sunlight alone. With this in mind, PHE has advised that ‘everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D’ and to ‘consider taking an additional vitamin D supplement’ during the winter months.

How do I get the vitamin D my body needs?

There is such a small amount of vitamin D present in food, which can make it very difficult to get sufficient vitamin D from food alone. However, there are some foods which are naturally rich in vitamin D.

Naturally rich sources of vitamin D;

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Oily fish
  • Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Pork
  • Eggs

A Fact about Fungi – Mushrooms are a fantastic source of vitamin D2

mushrooms and vitamin D

Mushrooms are one of the best food based sources of vitamin D2. They transform UV light from the sun into vitamin D, even once they have been harvested, packaged and delivered to the supermarket.

Top tip: If you unwrap your mushrooms and leave them in direct sunlight for at least 60 minutes, it’s been proven to boost the level of vitamin D contained within these fantastic fungi!

What is the difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3?

Did you know that there are two types of vitamin D?

Vitamin D-2 – Derived from plant based sources

Vitamin D-3 – Derived from animal sources

Our Ultra Vitamin D Supplement provides optimum strength vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, which is the preferred bioactive form of vitamin D because it is the specific form made in the human body and therefore more effective than D2 which is found in some supplements.

Will using a sunbed increase my levels of vitamin D?

Even though sunlight is the most common source of vitamin D production, PHE advises against using sunbeds as a source of artificial sunlight. Even short-term use could cause severe damage to the skin.

Who should take a vitamin D supplement?

Whilst the new research recommends that everyone should supplement their vitamin D intake, there are some groups where this is especially recommended.   

Those people whose skin has very little sunlight exposure (such as older generations who may be in a care home) or those covering their skin (for cultural or religious reasons) could be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency and are advised to take a supplement to safeguard their levels of vitamin D.

Those with darker skin may struggle to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone, even in the summer. The new guidelines recommend a supplement all year round.

Groups of people who may find a vitamin D supplement beneficial

  • Those who cover their skin or use daily sunscreens to protect their skin
  • Certain occupations such as those who work indoors
  • Those with medical reasons to cover their skin or spend a lot of time indoors
  • Those with increased dietary intolerances (e.g. lactose and dairy).
  • People who are on a diet or restricting their food intake in any way

Babies, young children and vitamin D

baby vitamin D

Did you know: Children aged 1 to 4 years should have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement.

If you’re looking for nutritional support for your baby, the Wellbaby range has been carefully formulated to help safeguard your baby’s diet from birth all the way up to 4 years. The range includes comprehensive multi-vitamin drops and liquid, all of which contain the recommended vitamins A, C and D.

Did you know: vitamin D is needed for normal growth and development of bone in children. It also contributes to their normal immune system function.

PHE recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age. As such, the guidelines recommend that all babies under 1 year should be given a daily vitamin D supplement between 8.5 to 10 micrograms to ensure they get enough. To note, children who drink more than 500ml of infant formula each day do not need any additional vitamin D as the formula is already fortified.

Vitamin D for mums

Did you know: Pregnant and lactating women are advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day?

For expert nutritional care throughout all of pregnancy, the Pregnacare range of pregnancy vitamins have been carefully developed to provide important nutritional throughout pregnancy.

Each of the pregnancy supplements within this range includes folic acid and vitamin D as advised by the UK Department of Health during pregnancy and breastfeeding.