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Vitamin D

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Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, muscle function, and the function of the immune system. The body makes vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin therefore during the summer months when we are outdoor more most people should be able to all the vitamin D that they need. However, as we spend less time outside and during the winter months with less sunlight, the body may not get the right amount and may need to top up through food sources or supplements. Good sources of vitamin D can be found in oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks, it can therefore be difficult to achieve sufficient levels of vitamin D without supplementation if following a vegan diet.

The Department of Health recommends the following regarding vitamin D:

  • breastfed babies from birth to 1 year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough
  • formula-fed babies shouldn't be given a vitamin D supplement until they're having less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D
  • children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D
  • everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
  • take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if you aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you're frail or housebound or usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
  • If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they should consult their doctor prior to taking supplements.

If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

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