Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.
These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Good sources 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 body creates Vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we don't get enough Vitamin D from sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Sources include:
Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
In the UK, cows' milk is generally not a good source of Vitamin D because it isn't fortified, as it is in some other countries.
Another source of Vitamin D is dietary supplements.
How much Vitamin D do I need?
Babies up to the age of 1 year need to take between 8.5 to 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day.
A microgram (mcg) is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram (mg).
The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol μ followed by the letter g (μg).
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to get all the Vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
Should I take a Vitamin D supplement?
Short answer - Yes.
To protect bone and muscle health, everyone needs Vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms - Public Health England
Advice for infants and young children
The Department of Health recommends that:
Breastfed babies from birth to 1 year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms 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 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D
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Advice for adults and children over 5 years old
During the autumn and winter, you need to get Vitamin D from your diet because the sun isn't strong enough for the body to make Vitamin D.
But since it's difficult for people to get enough Vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can get all the Vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You may choose not to take a Vitamin D supplement during these months.
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