Eat Well

Vitamin D

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy. It’s a fat-soluble , which means it’s absorbed through the gut with the help of fat. Excess amounts can even be stored within the body’s fatty tissue and liver until needed. Fat-soluble vitamins don’t always need to be consumed as often as water-soluble vitamins – but it’s still important to get enough.

 

 

What does it do?

Vitamin D supports the maintenance of healthy bones, teeth and muscle function by helping the body effectively absorb calcium from your diet. It also regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. Getting enough vitamin D is essential to keep your immune system running smoothly.

 

Good sources of vitamin D

Unlike most other nutrients, it can be difficult to get enough of this vitamin from food alone. Even when eating a varied and balanced diet, the majority of our vitamin D actually comes from exposing our skin to sunlight. In the UK, we can only make vitamin D this way during the spring and summer months.

There are however some good dietary sources of vitamin D – oily fish (try salmon, mackerel or herring), liver*, eggs, some mushrooms, fortified foods like breakfast cereals and even a little bottle of Yakult Light. Vitamin D is also available in cod liver oil and vitamin supplements.

Boost your vitamin D

Did you know?

You can’t make vitamin D through a window

  • The UV rays needed to make vitamin D can’t pass through your windowpane.

You need far less sun than you might think

  • As little as 9 minutes of sun exposure can make enough vitamin D for the day. This does vary for everyone though and is influenced by factors like skin tone and the time of year.

You can’t make vitamin D on a sunny autumn or winter day

  • The UV rays need to be a specific wavelength for you to produce vitamin D and the sun isn’t high enough in the sky between October and March for these wavelengths to be available.

Your shadow can tell you if you can make vitamin D

  • When your shadow is shorter than your height, the sun is high enough in the sky for you to make vitamin D. When your shadow is longer than you, there’s no vitamin D on offer – even if it’s a lovely sunny day.

Putting mushrooms out in the sun can increase their vitamin D

  • Like humans, mushrooms can make vitamin D when exposed to UV light – so popping your mushrooms out in the sunlight may help to boost their vitamin D content before you eat them.

Sources of Vitamin D