Vitamin D supplements 'advised for everyone'
Everyone should consider taking vitamin D supplements in the winter months, experts advise.
To protect bone and muscle health, everyone needs the vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms, Public Health England (PHE) advised the U.K. government on Thursday (21Jul16). This advice is based on the recommendations of the(SACN) following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health. Limited amounts of the vitamin are found in foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals. But, for most people, the bulk of their vitamin D is made from the action of sunlight on their skin. PHE says that in spring and summer, the majority of the population gets enough vitamin D through sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet. However during autumn and winter everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. Since it is difficult for people to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D, people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the colder seasons. People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those who live in care homes, or who always cover their skin when outside, risk vitamin D deficiency and need to take a supplement throughout the year too.
People with dark skin, from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds, may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer and therefore should consider taking a supplement all year round aswell. Children aged 1 to 4 years should have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement, PHE said.
"As a precaution, all babies under one year should have a daily 8.5 to 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough," the organisation said in a statement. "Children who have more than 500ml of infant formula a day do not need any additional vitamin D as formula is already fortified."
Dr Louis Levy, Head of Nutrition Science at PHE, said that vitamin D supplements are available free-of-charge for low-income families on the Healthy Start scheme.
"A healthy, balanced diet and short bursts of sunshine will mean most people get all the vitamin D they need in spring and summer,” he said.
"However, everyone will need to consider taking a supplement in the autumn and winter if you don’t eat enough foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are fortified with it. And those who don’t get out in the sun or always cover their skin when they do, should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the year.”
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It is found naturally in a small number of foods including oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks and in fortified food like breakfast cereals and fat spreads.