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Sources of Vitamin D

Updated on August 22, 2012


Vitamin D has many significant purposes. It helps to control the quantity of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are required to preserve bones and maintain healthy teeth.

A deficiency of vitamin D may increase the risk of bone defects like rickets in kids, bone pain and sensitivity as an effect of osteomalacia in grown-ups.

Sources of vitamin D

The majority of vitamin D comes from sunlight to our skin. The vitamin is made by our bodies when exposed to sunlight. It is still important to prevent getting burnt in the sun and wearing full protection such as a Sun Hat, Sunglasses and High Sunscreen is necessary. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. However you need exposure to the sun as well as eating certain foods.

  • oily fish – sardines, salmon
  • eggs
  • fortified fat spreads
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • powdered milk

Vitamin D – How much do I need?

If you eat a healthy diet and are able to get some sun especially during the warmer months your body should be able to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D to keep you healthy.

There are some specific groups of people that are at a higher risk than most for not receiving enough vitamin D.

  • Children under the age of 5 years
  • Pregnant and breast feeding women
  • older people aged 65 years and over
  • Individuals or are not exposed to much sun, or keep completely covered when outside or those who are house bound
  • Individuals who have dark skin

The Medical Journal of Australia (vitamin D and vitamin D status of Australian) report that vitamin D fortification varies depending on what country you are living in. In Australia there’s compulsory fortification of table edible oil spreads and voluntary fortification of powdered milk, yoghurts, skim milks and cheese.

In Europe it varies from country to country. The UK does not fortify whole milk but does fortify margarine.

The United States voluntary fortify milk, cereal, breads, margarine.

It will depend on the climate of the country where you live as to how much sunlight you require. If you are fair skinned, you may need less that if you are darker skinned. It is always advisable to protect yourself from sun damage and to speak to your health care professional regarding this.

Vitamin D deficiency in Australia is higher than previously thought with evidence that up to 80% of individuals with dark skin, unveiled or veiled females whilst pregnant, experience vitamin D deficiency (Medical Journal of Australia)

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE 2012) report that the UK Chief medical officers advise health professionals to raise awareness of vitamin D deficiency. It is recommended that pregnant women should take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy to maintain their own supplies and provide an adequate source to their baby to ensure the growth and development of healthy bones. The dose that has been advised is 10 micrograms (ug) of vitamin D, in addition to maintain healthy bones it is necessary to build adequate fetal stores in early infancy.

NICE’s public health guidance for maternal and child nutrition also supports this recommendation.

If you are an individual that fall into any of these groups it is advisable to speak to your health care professional to seek further advice and support.

For additional information on nutrition during pregnancy you may visit the NICE pathway http://pathways.nice.org.uk/pathways/diet.

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