Vitamin D supplementation during UK autumn and winter
Vitamin D is important, as it helps our bodies to absorb calcium, which is vital for strong healthy bones. Throughout the spring and summer months, we're able to generate our own vitamin D through sun exposure, but unfortunately these levels don't last through the autumn and winter months.
Now that the leaves are taking on their autumn colours, it's time for everyone over the age of one to consider vitamin D supplements; as the sun zenith angles are too low in UK for us to synthesise vitamin D through skin exposure to the UK sun from October to March. Without the sunshine, it’s very difficult to meet vitamin D requirements through diet alone...you’d need to eat a salmon fillet every day (... I like salmon but I don't want to eat it every single day), or you could eat six egg yolks every day (... again I wouldn’t advise this).
Buy supermarket or high street chemist own brand vitamin D supplements (looking for vitamin D3 with a daily dose of 10mcg), as these are much cheaper than the big brand names. Your body will absorb the supermarket/chemist own brand just as effectively as the big brand name, and if you have your supplement with your main meal rather than your breakfast, more vitamin D is likely to be absorbed. This is because our main meals tend to contain more fat than our breakfast meals, and vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin retained by the body.
If you are of Black African, African Caribbean or South Asian descent with dark skin, you may wish to consider supplementing with vitamin D (10mcg/day) all year round, as your skin requires longer sun exposure to synthesis vitamin D.
If you know someone who is elderly, frail or housebound and therefore not getting much sun exposure, you could suggest that they consider vitamin D supplementation all year round too.
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About Elaine Allerton
Elaine Allerton is a registered dieititian, specialising in the dietary management of diabetes and digestive problems (including the low-FODMAP diet for IBS).