Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients help us to have healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
A lack of it can lead to numerous health problems including cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid problems and has also been linked to allergies, some types of cancer and depression.
How much vitamin D do I need?
The NHS recommends a daily intake of 10 micrograms and an intake of 8.5 to 10 micrograms for babies up to the age of 1.
Do I need supplements?
The main source to get Vitamin D is the sun. In the UK, between the end of March and September, anyone healthy should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
However, in the autumn and winter months, many people are at risk of lack of Vitamin D.
Since it's difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter months.
Food high in vitamin D
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.
- Red meat.
- Fortified food such as some breads, yogurts or cereals.
What happens if I take too much vitamin D?
The daily recommendation in 10 micrograms. Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
Sun exposure won't cause an 'overdose' of vitamin D but you must be careful by protecting your skin from intense sun exposure to avoid burns and reduce risks of other skin issues or skin cancer.
If you have any doubts about your vitamin D intake, ask your doctor for advice.