Getting enough vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones.
Everyone needs vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from their diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones and teeth.
A lack of vitamin D - known as vitamin D deficiency - can cause bones to become soft and weak, which can lead to bone deformities. In adults, it can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.
Vitamin D facts
Exposure to sunlight is the best way to boost vitamin D stores in the body but only during April to September. For most people in the UK, exposing arms and face without sunscreen up to 15 minutes a day (around 11am - 3pm) without burning is enough to produce vitamin D during these months.
Between October and March the UK sunshine is not strong enough to help the body make vitamin D. Instead our body relies on our body stores and food during the winter months.
While eating a well-balanced diet is important for overall health, there is not enough vitamin D in food to achieve good levels. Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, pilchards and salmon contain natural sources of vitamin D and margarines, some breakfast cereals and powdered milk are fortified with vitamin D.
Other information and advice
- How much sunlight do we need? (NHS website)
- Vitamin D in foods (NHS website)
- Vitamin D food chart (British Dietetics Association)
Healthy Start Vitamins voucher scheme