Vitamin D supplements for all

New advice released by Public Health England (PHE) suggests everyone should take a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement to protect bone and muscle health during autumn and winter.

Previously, only certain groups were advised to take vitamin D supplements, including people aged 65 and older, babies, young children up to the age of five, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people who aren’t exposed to much sun.

The advice is based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), following its review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.

Experts from PHE believe the majority of people get enough vitamin D through exposing their skin to sunlight and by eating healthily during the summer. But when the weather turns colder and sunlight is in short supply, we have to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D – and according to PHE, it’s difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D we need from eating foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D.

Year-round protection

Meanwhile, people who have little to no sun exposure – such as people who are housebound – and those who always protect their skin when outdoors are advised to take vitamin D supplements in the summer too.

The guidelines also suggest that people with dark skin – such as those from African, Afro-Caribbean and South-Asian backgrounds – should also consider taking a supplement all year round as they may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer in the UK.

“A healthy balanced diet and short burst of sunshine will mean most people get all the vitamin D they need in spring and summer,” says Dr Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at PHE.

“However, everyone will need to consider taking a supplement in the autumn and winter if you don’t eat enough foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are fortified with it. And those who don’t get out in the sun or always cover their skin when they do, should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the year.”

Vitamin D supplements are available free of charge for low-income families on the Healthy Start scheme (ask your GP or local Careway pharmacist for more information). If you’re not eligible for free vitamins, your pharmacist can help you choose which vitamin supplement you should buy.

To find a Careway pharmacy in your area, use our Pharmacy Finder.