What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. If you don’t get enough vitamin D you might feel tired, get sick often, have weak bones and muscle pain, and feel anxious or depressed.
What is its function?
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that’s needed for healthy bones, muscles, and a strong immune system. It's also important for your mental health — low levels are linked to depression.
What can cause my levels to change?
Your body is able to make all the vitamin D you need when your skin is exposed to sunlight. But when sunlight exposure is low during autumn and winter, it’s really common for your vitamin D levels to drop — putting you at risk of developing a deficiency.
You can get vitamin D from foods like oily fish, liver, egg yolks, and fortified food but it's hard to get enough this way.
You might also be at an increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency if you:
- are vegan or vegetarian
- have darker skin
- are elderly
- always wear sunscreen
- stay indoors a lot
- cover up most of your skin outdoors
What are the most common symptoms?
The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- getting sick often
- feeling tired
- aching bones and joints
- weak bones — increasing your risk of osteoporosis
- poor wound healing
- weak muscles
What can I do to change my levels?
During spring and summer, extra sun exposure can help to boost your vitamin D levels. If you’re out for long periods in the sun it’s important to cover up or wear sun protection. This will help protect you from sun damage and skin cancer.
During autumn and winter, Public Health England advises that everyone should consider taking a 10 mcg daily vitamin D supplement from October to March. And if you’re more at-risk, they recommend taking them year round. The recommended doses for at-risk groups include:
- 8.5-10 mcg daily for breastfed babies from birth to 1 year
- 10 mcg daily for children aged 1-4 years
- 10 mcg daily for at-risk adults — for example, if you’re elderly or have darker skin