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.