Many people are concerned about vitamin D, the effect it has on the body and also the problems caused by a lack of it.

Vitamin D mainly helps build strong bones and teeth, then works with calcium to keep them strong and healthy throughout our lives.

A lack of the vitamin can cause rickets in children.  This is when the bones are soft and weak, which can lead to deformities such as bowed legs.

In adults it leads to bone pain and tenderness.

The main source is direct sunlight.  It is also found in oily fish, for example salmon, mackerel and sardines, along with eggs, milk, butter and cheese.  It is added to most breakfast cereals and fat spreads.

The people who need extra vitamin D are

  • All children under 5 years old
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Adults over 65
  • People who are housebound for a period of time
  • Anyone who does not expose their skin to direct sunlight
  • People with darker skin, usually of African, Caribbean or South Asian origin

Of course we all need to be careful of over exposure to sunlight, and common sense is needed to avoid serious burning of the skin.  But it is important to let your skin absorb the rays of the sun for a short period of time.

If you are concerned that you are not getting enough vitamin D naturally or from your food, you may wish to take a supplement.  If this is the case I would suggest that you ask advise in an approved health food store.

If you are taking prescribed medication it is best to ask your GP whether a supplement is necessary.

Getting the body’s required vitamins through food & drink is always the best option, and enjoying the sunshine whenever possible.

Best wishes

Jane Ardley

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