Vitamin D
Are you getting enough?
Report recommends
10 micrograms (μg) a day...

Vitamin D

Are you getting enough?
Report recommends 10 mg(μg) a day...

Scientific Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report

Vitamin D has been high up the news agenda recently, following the publication of the Scientific Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report this July. The report was welcomed by The Charity and we also highlighted the need for urgent debate on the best way for people to get more of the vital vitamin D they need in their diets to build strong bones. 

Study recomends everyone over 1 year of age should get 10 micrograms (sometimes described as 10 μg) of vitamin D every day. 10 micrograms (μg) is equal to 400 International Units(IU)

The charity is currently working with parliamentarians, experts and stakeholders to debate how the recommendations can be implemented in the UK and will be holding a meeting to examine the roles of sunlight, further food fortification and wide-scale use of supplements.

For more information please click here

A recent report from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) says that not everyone is getting the vitamin D they need. To be on the safe side, they have recommended that everyone over 1 year of age should get 10 micrograms (sometimes described as 10 μg) of vitamin D every day.

10 micrograms (μg) is equal to 400 International Units(IU)

As a result of this report the government recommends:

From about late March/early April to the end of September, most of us should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight when we are outdoors, alongside foods that contain vitamin D. In the UK, sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, babies and children aged under five years should be given vitamin D supplements all the year round even if they do get out in the sun (see below).

What should I do?

  • Consider whether you are getting enough safe sunlight exposure and think about ways to improve this if you can.
  • Get familiar with foods that contain vitamin D (naturally and fortified) and make them part of well balanced healthy eating
  • Consider whether you need to take a 10 microgram(400IU) supplement to ensure you get the vitamin D you need need especially during the winter months. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as people with darker skin because of their ethnic origin.
  • Check whether you are someone at greatest risk of not getting enough vitamin D (see below) with implications for your bone health when it will be important that you take a vitamin D supplement.

Remember if you aren’t sure and decide to take a 10 microgram (400IU) supplement to be on the safe side – that should cause you no harm.

You are likely to be getting inadequate amounts of vitamin D and a supplement will is recommended:

  • From birth to one year unless you are receiving 500 ml or more of formula milk which is fortified with vitamin D
  • Aged from 1-4 years
  • If you aren't exposed to much sunlight – for example, if you cover up your skin for cultural reasons; you are frail, housebound or confined indoors for long periods or who use sunblock for medical reasons

Talk to your doctor if you have the following health problems or medications because a vitamin D supplement might be particularly important for you:

  • If you have severe liver or kidney disease or a condition that affects the way you absorb food.
  • If you take long-term anti-epileptic drugs. This is because these alter the way vitamin D is broken down and used by the body and can affect the absorption of calcium.

Why you need vitamin D

You need vitamin D to help regulate the way your body uses calcium and ensure your bones, muscles and teeth remain strong. For healthy adults in the UK, much of the vitamin D you get is obtained by the action of sunlight on your skin. The sun’s ultraviolet light makes a relatively inactive form of vitamin D (cholecalciferol/vitamin D3) in your skin. This is carried by your blood to organs in your body that convert this into an active form of vitamin D that your body can use.

How can I get the vitamin D that I need?


Can I get too much vitamin D?
High intakes of vitamin D for prolonged periods can be toxic so it is important that dietary supplements do not provide more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D daily, unless prescribed for a specific reason by your doctor. (The upper limit is 50 micrograms a day for children from 1-10years and 25 micrograms for babies under a year.) If you are taking a number of different vitamin and mineral supplements you will need to check to make sure you are aren’t taking more than the recommended dose. Generally foods and fortified foods (with fortification at its current levels) provide small amounts of vitamin D which are very unlikely to cause you any problems

For more information see our fact sheet ‘Vitamin D supplements and tests’ (available soon)

Getting the vitamin D you need in your diet

We all know calcium is good for bones, but did you know you also need vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium in order to really make your bones strong?

It is not usually possible to obtain all the vitamin D you need from food alone. Including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet will make a valuable contribution to the vitamin D you get from the sun. Our handy food chooser will help you get more into your diet every day.

You can also find vitamin D in specially fortified foods such as some yoghurt and bread products and specially processed mushrooms. Check the food’s label or packaging for more information.

Please note: To see the portion details please place your mouse over the image of the food. Pictures are for guidance only

Foods providing around 12-20 micrograms of vitamin D per portion

Grilled herring*

1 portion (119g)
19.2 micrograms per portion

Pink salmon, canned in brine & drained*

1 small can (100g)
13.6 micrograms per portion

Grilled salmon*

1 portion (170g)
13.3 micrograms per portion

Grilled kipper fillet*

1 portion (130g)
13.1 micrograms per portion

Grilled rainbow trout*

fillet 1 portion (155g)
12.7 micrograms per portion

Smoked mackerel*

1 portion (150g)
12.3 micrograms per portion

Foods providing around 3-4 micrograms of vitamin D per portion

Hot malted drink

1 mug (25g)
4.6 micrograms per portion

Crab, cooked*

1 small can (75g)
3.5 micrograms per portion

Tinned sardines in tomato sauce

1 small can (100g)
3.3 micrograms per portion

Scrambled eggs / plain omelette

2 eggs (120g)
3.3 micrograms per portion

Foods providing around 1-2 micrograms of vitamin D per portion

Build-up powdered sachet (shake)

1 sachet (38g)
1.7 micrograms per portion

Soya milk (fortified)

1 glass (200ml)
1.6 micrograms per portion

Boiled chicken’s egg

1 egg without shell (50g)
1.6 micrograms per portion

Cornflakes (fortified) / bran flakes (fortified)

1 portion (30g)
1.4 micrograms per portion

Foods providing around 0.5 micrograms of vitamin D per portion

Pork chop, grilled

1 chop excluding bone (75g)
0.6 micrograms per portion

Grilled bacon rashers

2 middle rashers (80g)
0.6 micrograms per portion

Low-fat spread, polyunsaturated (fortified)

1 teaspoon (5g)
0.6 micrograms per portion

Baking fat/margarine

1 teaspoon (5g)
0.6 micrograms per portion

Pork sausages, grilled or fried*

1 sausage (40g)
0.4 micrograms per portion

Lamb’s liver, fried*

1 portion (40g)
0.4 micrograms per portion

*Limit processed meat. Limit oily fish to 4 portions a week (2 if you are pregnant or trying to conceive)*

Limit liver products to 1 portion a week if you are over 50 and avoid if pregnant.

Check the food labels or packaging for more information – the range fortified with vitamin D is increasing.

Some foods such as wild mushrooms can be high in vitamin D but this will vary.

For more information onfoods for bones please see our leftlet Healthy Living For Strong Bones.

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