Are you getting enough Vitamin D every day? In fact, thinking about it, how much is ‘enough?’
Before we delve deeper into the ins and outs of Vitamin D, let’s just spend a minute or two focusing on what it is, the main sources of Vitamin D and what it does to our body.
What is Vitamin D and what does it do?
Vitamin D is the vitamin that’s responsible for helping regulate how much calcium and phosphate we have in our body. It’s these nutrients that make sure our bones, teeth and muscles stay nice and healthy.
How much Vitamin D do I need?
According to the NHS guidance:
- Babies up to the age of 1 year – need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
- Children from the age of one – need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Adults – need 10 micrograms every day if they’re not often outdoors, live in a care home, have dark skin or cover up when they’re in the sun.1
Ideally, if you are at risk of having low Vitamin D levels, you should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement all-year round. This also applies to children from the age of one to four.2
How can I boost my Vitamin D levels?
We tend to get most of our Vitamin D from the sun. However, because it’s not permanently sunny all-year round, and because not all of us spend lots of time outside in the sun, it’s easy for us not to have enough of it in our system.
Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can actually make and absorb Vitamin D from sun exposure. Spending between five and 30 minutes in the sun from 10am and 3pm twice a week on the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost our intake.3
The best way to maintain healthy levels of it is by making sure we’re benefiting from several sources of Vit D, primarily:
- The sun
- Vitamin D supplements4
Which food contains Vitamin D?
Vitamin D happens to be one of those vitamins that’s not found in many food products, which means it’s not necessarily that easy to top up via our diet.
The main food sources of Vitamin D are – oily fish (think salmon, herring, sardines and canned tuna), red meat, liver, egg yolk and fortified foods, e.g. fat spreads and breakfast cereal.5
As well as upping your Vitamin D food sources, it’s also possible to boost your levels by taking vitamin D supplements. There’s a wide range of supplements out there, such as tablets, caplets, drops for babies and children, sprays and chewable tablets.
Vegan sources of Vitamin D
While there are few Vitamin D sources in food, the good news is, some of these sources are vegan. For instance, 1 cup of almond milk will give you 100mg of Vitamin D, orange juice, 100mg and 1 cup of portobello mushrooms, 634mg.
Other vegan sources of Vitamin D in food, include Maitake mushrooms, soy milk, soy yoghurt and ready-to-eat cereal.6
Vitamin D surprising facts
Here’s a few things you might not have known about Vitamin D, until now:
- You are more likely to get less of it if you live in a city, which is built up and where pollution levels are higher, or if you work in an office or on night shifts7
- In the UK, one in five people have low Vitamin D levels8
- Most people don’t realise they have a Vitamin D deficiency9
- During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun isn’t strong enough for our bodies to make it10
- The ultraviolet B that’s in sunlight and enables our body to generate Vitamin D doesn’t penetrate glass, so you need to go outside to get your UV-Vitamin D hit11
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Last updated: 23 June 2020