Vitamin D

Vitamin D is made by our skin from sunlight and is also found in small amounts in some foods.

Good food sources are oily fish and eggs.  Other food sources include fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and spreads. 

What does it do?

Vitamin D has a number of important functions. For example it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and calcium and phosphate are needed to help keep bones and teeth healthy.

What is our advice?

Everyone (all adults and children) age 5 and above

Everyone age 5 years and above should consider taking a daily supplement of 10μg of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months (October – March).  Between late March/early April and September, the majority of people aged 5 years and above will probably obtain sufficient vitamin D from sunlight when they are outdoors, alongside foods that naturally contain or are fortified with vitamin D.  From October to March, everyone aged 5 and over will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D.  Since vitamin D is found only in a small number of foods, it might be difficult to get enough from foods that naturally contain vitamin D and/or fortified foods alone.  

Ages 1 - 4 years

Children aged 1 to 4 years of age should be given a daily supplement containing 10μg vitamin D.

Birth to 1 year

As a precaution, it is recommended that all babies from birth up to one year of age should be given a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10μg vitamin D. Babies who are formula fed do not require a vitamin D supplement if they are having at least 500ml per day, as infant formula already has added vitamin D.

Groups recommended to take supplements all year round 

It is recommended that those at greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency take a daily supplement all year round.  These groups include:

  • pregnant and breastfeeding mothers  
  • children under 5 years of age
  • people who are not exposed to much sunlight, such as frail or housebound individuals, or those that cover their skin for cultural reasons; and 
  • people from minority ethnic groups with dark skin such as those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin, because they require more sun exposure to make as much vitamin D. 

For more information, talk to your GP or another health professional.

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