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Should people in the UK take a Vitamin D supplement?

3 min read

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a number of important roles in the body, including helping to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood, which are important for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also important for supporting the immune system, and may have other health benefits as well.

There are several potential reasons why people in the UK might consider taking a vitamin D supplement:

  1. Limited sunlight exposure: Vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to sunlight exposure, so people who don't get enough sunlight may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. In the UK, the amount of sunlight can vary significantly depending on the time of year and location, and some people may not get enough sunlight to meet their vitamin D needs, particularly during the autumn and winter months.

  2. Diet: Vitamin D is found naturally in a limited number of foods, including fatty fish, eggs, and fortified foods such as milk and some breakfast cereals. If a person's diet is low in these foods, they may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

  3. Certain health conditions: Some health conditions can affect the body's ability to absorb or metabolize vitamin D, which can increase the risk of deficiency. For example, people with conditions such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, or those who have had gastric bypass surgery, may be at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.

  4. Support for bone health: Vitamin D is important for regulating the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood, which are necessary for healthy bones and teeth. A lack of vitamin D can lead to weak bones and an increased risk of osteoporosis, particularly in older adults. Taking a vitamin D supplement may help support bone health and prevent or treat conditions such as osteoporosis.

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) recommends that adults and children over the age of one take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms (400 IU) during the autumn and winter months, when it is more difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight. This recommendation is based on the fact that the body's ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight is reduced during these months due to the angle of the sun and the shorter days.

However, the decision to take a supplement should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider therefore we always recommend getting your blood levels checked first before supplementing,. Some people may be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency or have conditions that require a higher dosage of vitamin D. While others may be at risk of getting too much vitamin D, which can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and weakness. It is important to add here that vitamin D is very well tolerated and it is only in cases of very high intakes that side effects are likely to occur, no more than 4000IU per day should be taken.

In general, it is best to try to get vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight and a balanced diet, rather than relying solely on supplements. However, as this is only realistically practical in the summer months supplementation is important in order to avoid deficiency.

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A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.