Most of our Vitamin D is made by our body under the skin, in reaction to summer sunlight. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, nutrients that are needed to keep our bones and teeth healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities, such as rickets in children, and a condition called osteomalacia in adults, which results in bone pain and tenderness.
As winter draws in, what can you do to keep your levels topped up?
Most people can get enough vitamin D by eating healthily and getting some exposure to summer sun.
Read here for NHS advice on how to get Vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are:
• oily fish – such as salmon, sardines and mackerel
• fortified fat spreads
• fortified breakfast cereals
• some powdered milks
Those most at risk of getting a Vitamin D deficiency are:
• pregnant and breastfeeding women
• babies and young children under the age of five
• those aged 64 or over
• people who are not exposed to much sun
• people who have darker skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin
The Department of Health recommends that those most at risk take daily supplements of Vitamin D, which can be bought at most supermarkets and pharmacies.
It’s important not to take too much, especially over a long period of time, as this could cause the absorption of more calcium than can be naturally expelled by the body. This increased calcium could stay in the kidneys and damage them.
If you think you might have a Vitamin D deficiency, see your GP.
For more information on Vitamin D, visit the NHS website for a wealth of information.