Sunlight is the best way to get your vitamin D fix
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight, which causes the vitamin (actually a hormone) to form under your skin. Exercising outside is an excellent way to ensure you get your daily dose.
There are only a few foods that provide good levels of vitamin D, including oily fish (eg salmon and sardines), eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and spreads.
The chief medical officer for England has advised health workers to consider suggesting at-risk groups take vitamin D supplements to avoid the risks of deficiency. A lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets in babies and children. Find out more about rickets at our sister site netdoctor.co.uk
Vitamin D also has several important functions, including regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These substances are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
The NHS Direct website advises: 'You do not need vitamin D in your diet every day. This is because any of the vitamin your body does not need immediately is stored for future use. Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some sun.'
The Department of Health recommends that the following people should take daily vitamin D supplements:
- all children aged six months to five years old
- all pregnant and breastfeeding women
- all people aged 65 and over
- people who are not exposed to much sun, such as people who cover up their skin for cultural reasons or those who are housebound or confined indoors for long periods
- people with darker skins such as people of African-Caribbean and South Asian origin
Bear in mind, however, that taking high doses of vitamin D for long periods could weaken your bones.