Vitamin D deficiency: How much ‘sunshine vitamin’ do you need to avoid condition?

Vitamin D deficiency can develop if a person isn’t getting enough of the vitamin from sunlight. The body creates vitamin D from sunlight on the skin when outdoors, and from late March and early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. During the winter months it’s obviously not as easy to be getting the required amount of sunshine and this is when deficiencies occur. How much vitamin D to you actually need to avoid having a deficiency?


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Vitamin D is needed in the body for overall good health. The body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium and phosphate from the diet.

These minerals are important for healthy bones, teethand muscles. The vitamin is mainly created through direct exposure to sunlight outdoors.

A lack of the vitamin can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

A person can be at risk of vitamin D deficiency if they are constantly feeling tired.

In a study with the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D was investigated. The study noted: “Nutrient deficiencies are usually the result of dietary inadequacy, impaired absorption and use, increased requirement, or increased excretion.

“A vitamin D deficiency can occur when usual intake is lower than recommended levels over time, exposure to sunlight is limited, the kidneys cannot convert 25(OH)D to its active form, or absorption of vitamin D from the digestive tract is inadequate.

“Vitamin D-deficient diets are associated with milk allergy, lactose intolerance, ovo-vegetarianism, and veganism.

“In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, resulting in weak bones. Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can indicate inadequate vitamin D levels, but such symptoms can be subtle and go undetected in the initial stages.”

How much vitamin D does a person need?

The NHS said: “Children from the age of one year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.

“This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

“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.”


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Should you take a vitamin D supplement?

During the autumn and winter a person needs to get vitamin D from their 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 (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.

The NHS added: “Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can get all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.”

Best food sources for vitamin D include oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks or fortified foods such as most fat spread and some breakfast cereals.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, it’s important to consult your GP.

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