Vitamin D is important for good bone health, but it can be difficult to get enough during the winter. We look at the top ways for getting enough vitamin D after a diagnosis.
Why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies. Both are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
Should I be taking a vitamin D supplement?
During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun isn't strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.
But since it's difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Who is most at risk of being low on vitamin D?
People who are most at risk of a vitamin D deficiency include those who:
- Spend most or all of their time indoors (for example, because they are in a nursing home)
- Have medical problems (such as coeliac disease) that make it hard for them to absorb vitamin D
- Have a condition called osteoporosis which makes bones weak
Can I get vitamin D from my food?
You can get vitamin D from:
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
- Oily fish, such as herrings and sardines
- Cod liver oil
- Margarine, yoghurts and breakfast cereals that have added vitamin D (vitamin D-fortified)
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
In the UK, cows' milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn't fortified, as it is in some other countries.
Can you have too much vitamin D?
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.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
Top tips for getting enough vitamin D
Eat foods that contain vitamin D, such as oily fish, mushrooms and egg yolks.
Enjoy the sun safely during summer. From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
Getting vitamin D from food alone (especially if you are vegan) can be difficult. You may want to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Visit the NHS website for more information.
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