Did you know that one in five people in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency in the autumn and winter months? We all need the vitamin to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy, but much of what we get is produced by sunlight making contact with our skin. Due to shorter days, and more overcast days, many of us in the UK don’t produce enough vitamin D from October to March. And while we can obtain the rest of our recommended daily intake of 10 micrograms (for adults) from our diet, it’s much harder to do. Vitamin D is found in a variety of foods such as oily fish, egg yolks, red meat, liver and fortified foods such as cereals.
For years now, some experts, including those at Public Health England (PHE), have given the advice that we should all take vitamin D supplements to ensure we get enough. A report published in 2016 by a committee of independent nutrition experts, commissioned by the Department of Health in England, recommends that everyone in the country should take extra vitamin D, not just a few selected groups such as pregnant women and elderly people.
However, not all experts and medical professionals agree, and some say that buying the supplements is actually a waste of money. In a BBC News article about this debate Professor Martin Hewison, from the Society for Endocrinology, said: “Almost all trials for vitamin D supplementation have shown that supplementation is only effective if you are vitamin D-deficient to begin with. As such, the benefits of vitamin D supplements were difficult to determine from the study, even though it involved a large number of individuals.”