Who needs vitamin D supplements? The short answer: pretty much all of us. NHS advice says “everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter”.
Why do you need vitamin D?
You need vitamin D for maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s an essential nutrient for regulating your calcium, magnesium and phosphorous intake — all the minerals needed for the healthy formation of bones, among many other things.
Where can you get vitamin D?
Vitamin D is something we absorb when our skin is exposed to sunlight. From early April to September, you can generally get enough of this from being outside. However, during the autumn and winter months, we’re not getting out as much and with the clocks going back, the amount of daylight we are getting is minimal.
You can also get vitamin D from leafy green vegetables, oily fish, red meat and fortified dairy products. However, it’s hard for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone.
A supplement is a simple way of getting the right amount of vitamin D in your diet. While a vitamin D supplement is recommended for everyone in the colder months, certain groups are more at risk of a deficiency and may require it all-year-round.
Are you at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
If you’re trying for a baby, having the right level of vitamin D is important for conception. “Women sufficient in vitamin D have also been found to be 10 percent more likely to become pregnant compared to those with insufficient concentrations of the vitamin,” reports BetterYou.
If you’re pregnant, you need vitamin D to support the healthy growth of your baby. Having sufficient vitamin D levels is also needed for the delivery of healthy full-term births. Studies show that “vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of infants being small for their gestational age and improve growth during infancy,” according to BetterYou. “Expectant mothers should be supplementing with up to 2000 IU of vitamin D per day to help reduce the risk of foetal and neonatal mortality.”
If your diet is plant-based, you can still get vitamin D from food but it’s nowhere near enough. “Studies have found that the vast majority of those following a plant-based diet have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D,” states BetterYou. A supplement, that you can easily get in spray form, can deliver the 1000 IU you need.
If you have darker skin, “the melanin in your skin competes with vitamin D for UVB absorption, meaning that darker skin types allow less UVB to enter the skin and consequently produce less vitamin D,” advises BetterYou. While dosage recommendations, don’t take ethnicity into consideration, “The Department of Health recommends that those with darker skin supplement all year round”.
If you work in an office (most of us, right?), it’s likely you’re not spending enough time outside. In fact, it’s a huge concern in the UK that our office workers are increasingly at risk of a vitamin D deficiency. Of course how much vitamin D you need is going to vary from person to person; pick up a test kit to find out.
Do my children need a vitamin D supplement?
If you have a newborn and you’re breastfeeding or partially breastfeeding them, they ought to have a vitamin D supplement, as breastmilk doesn’t contain enough vitamin D.
If your child is under five years old, a vitamin D supplement is recommended. “Without vitamin D there is a danger that children will develop problems with their bones and muscles and any child that doesn’t get enough vitamin D, either through diet or from sunlight, can develop rickets,” reports BetterYou. 400 IU daily is suitable for children of all ages.
If you have a teenager, vitamin D is going to help ensure the development of healthy bones, in particular through their growth sport up to the age of 18 years old. What’s more, teenagers are spending more time indoors than ever which puts them at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Which vitamin D supplement spray is best for you?
BetterYou has a wide selection of vitamin D sprays to suit your lifestyle. They’re easy to use each day and are a great alternative to tablets. Pill-free vitamin D is particularly ideal for little ones who may not be used to swallowing tablets.
Best for everyone in autumn and winter
Best for under 3 years old
Best for kids and teenagers
Best for those with a plant-based diet:
To read more about vitamin D and supplements, visit NHS.uk