Vit D supplements in autumn and winter

Health correspondent / 21 July 2016

We all need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to protect bone and muscle health says Public Health England. So, should you take a supplement?



To protect bone and muscle health, everyone needs vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms, Public Health England (PHE) advised the government today. 

PHE says that in spring and summer, the majority of the population get enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy diet, but that during autumn and winter everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. 

However,  it can be difficult for people to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are or fortified with vitamin D, so people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D in autumn and winter.

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This advice is based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.

Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, said: “A healthy, balanced diet and short bursts of sunshine will mean most people get all the vitamin D they need in spring and summer.

“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.

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Vitamin D is made in the skin by the action of sunlight and this is the main source of vitamin D for most people. SACN could not say how much vitamin D is made in the skin through exposure to sunlight, so it is therefore recommending a daily dietary intake of 10 micrograms.   

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