Vitamin D has several important functions. For example, it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods. Good food sources are:
Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun. Groups of the population at risk of not getting enough vitamin D are:
It is recommended that:
You can buy single vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for use by under-fives) at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
If you take vitamin D supplements, do not take more than 25 micrograms (0.025mg) a day, as it could be harmful. However, taking less than this is unlikely to cause any harm. Your body doesn't make too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you are out in the sun for long periods. Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause more calcium to be absorbed than can be excreted. The excess calcium can be deposited in and damage the kidneys. Excessive intake of vitamin D can also encourage calcium to be removed from bones, which can soften and weaken them.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.