Typically known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D might just be one of the most well known micronutrients. Ironically, that’s likely due to the fact that many of us (particularly in the UK) aren’t getting enough. The latest National Nutrition and Diet Survey found 16% of UK adults had low vitamin D levels, whilst for children it was 19% (1).
Why do we need vitamin D?
Like any nutrient, vitamin D plays a crucial role in your health, particularly your bone health. Vitamin D helps with calcium and phosphate regulation, which are both important for maintaining healthy bones and muscles (2, 3, 4). Calcium and phosphate are important minerals involved in bone mineralisation, which is the process of laying down new bone (4).
A vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of bone problems, including rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis (2,4). Many of you may have heard of the terms rickets, which is the softening, weakening and poor growth of bones in children, which can lead to bone deformities (5). Osteoporosis is the weakening of bones, making them more brittle and at risk of breaking (6). However, osteomalacia might be a new word to you. Osteomalacia is similar to rickets - it’s just in adults instead (5).
Besides bone health, vitamin D also supports the immune system (2, 3, 4).
How much vitamin D do I need?
Current recommendations for vitamin D in the UK are (2):
Children up to age 1: 8.5-10 micrograms/day
Children aged 1 years plus: 10 micrograms/day
Adults: 10 micrograms/day
Where can I find vitamin D?
It might be no surprise given its nickname, but the majority of people obtain their vitamin D from sunlight. It should be clarified that the sun isn’t radiating vitamin D down to you. Rather, your body uses direct sunlight on your skin to produce vitamin D (2).
You might have noticed that it’s not always sunny in the UK, meaning you can’t always rely on the Sun.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include:
Fortified fat spreads (check ingredients/nutrition labels)
Fortified breakfast cereals (check ingredients/nutrition labels)
Eggs (specifically egg yolks)
Unfortunately, it can be tricky to get enough vitamin D from food alone. As a result, there are times when vitamin D supplements are recommended.
What do I need to know about vitamin D supplements? Whilst vitamin D is a commonly spoken about nutrient, the British Nutrition Foundation found nearly 49% of Brits weren’t aware of the UK Government’s vitamin D supplement recommendations (7). Current recommendations for vitamin D supplementation in the UK state that during the Autumn and Winter months (Late September/October - Early March), most people should be taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement (2). This is due to limited sunlight - which we rely heavily on for the majority of our vitamin D. It’s important to note that everyone is different. Some people may need to supplement with lower or greater amounts. It’s always important to seek advice from your registered health professional before taking large doses of supplements. Excessive vitamin D intakes over a prolonged period of time can, ironically, weaken your bones, as well as damage your kidneys and heart (2). Don’t worry though - you can’t produce too much vitamin D from sunlight (although it’s always important to be sun safe). If you’re concerned around your vitamin D levels, please visit your registered health professional, who can provide you with advice and support. There are many vitamin D supplements available on the market, which can make buying a supplement an overwhelming experience. Rhitrition +, founded by Registered Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, is a supplement company that uses scientific evidence to formulate their products (8). With this in mind, they only create supplements where there's evidence for their need. As a result, they offer a vitamin D oral spray. Having tried this supplement myself, this is definitely a supplement I recommend. It’s convenient (just 1 spray = daily dose of vitamin D), tastes great and is science-backed - you really couldn’t ask for more from a supplement. You can get 10% of your order from Rhitrition + with code LUCYJONES10. Disclaimer: Using my code on Rhitrition + will earn me commission at no extra cost to you. I only work with brands that I personally enjoy and genuinely recommend. Thank you for your support. References