The Main Sources Of Vitamin D

Boost Your Health With These Sources Of Vitamin D

Woman Turning Around On Green Fields With Sun Shining

If you are wondering what the main sources of Vitamin D are, you’ve come to the right place.

However, the list of vitamin D sources is not particularly extensive. That’s because the key source of vitamin D is sunlight, which subsequently has led to vitamin D being nicknamed the ‘sunshine vitamin’.

But how else can we get vitamin D and why do we actually need it?

Why Do We Need Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is essential for ensuring the maintenance of normal muscles, bones and teeth.

We also need vitamin D so our body can absorb enough calcium, which in turn supports bone health.

Vitamin D also contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, an area where more and more research is focusing.

How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?

In the UK, the Department of Health and Social Care recommend that anyone aged five and over, as well as pregnant and lactating women, should consider taking 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D a day during the autumn and winter. Typically between April to the end of September, most people can fulfil their vitamin D quota from the sun.

The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D throughout the year if you are not often outdoors – for example, if you're frail or housebound, are in an institution like a care home, usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors. Or if you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Adults over 60 could also benefit from a daily vitamin D intake of 20µg. This is to help reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness. In men and women over 60, falling is a risk factor for bone fractures. Vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and supports normal muscle function.

Many experts across the world now recommend higher levels of vitamin D, for example 25µg (1000IU) or 50µg (2000 IU) per day.

Vitamin D From The Sun

We get most of, if not just about all of our vitamin D from the sun. How?

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, vitamin D is produced, specifically vitamin D3, the body’s preferred type of vitamin D.

The time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body's requirements can vary. This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed, and the time of day.

However, just 10 to 20 minutes in the sun with legs, arms and face exposed, in the spring and summer months, is sufficient to make enough vitamin D. After this time, it’s best to wear sun protection to avoid risk factors that can develop from sun exposure.

In the winter it’s very hard to get vitamin D from the sun, and if the sun is out, it’s not known how long it would take to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements.

Added to this, those who spend a lot of time indoors or have limited sun exposure may not be getting enough vitamin D from the sun and should consider taking a supplement.

Ultra Vitamin D 1000IU offers optimum strength in one daily tablet, providing 25µg of vitamin D3.

What Foods Provide Vitamin D?

Whilst you can aid your intake of vitamin D with food, there aren’t actually many foods that contain vitamin D. In particular, vitamin D3, the preferred type of vitamin D.

In the UK, an average diet provides 3-4 µg of vitamin D per day and only a little more if oily fish is consumed.

Vitamin D3 comes primarily from animal sources such as oily fish, eggs, and some dairy products. Try adding the below to your daily diet for a vitamin D boost.

  • 1 tsp of Cod Liver Oil provides 11.3µg
  • 85g of Cooked Salmon contains 11.1µg
  • 85g of Drained, Canned Sardines provides 4.1µg
  • 85g of Canned Salmon provides 12.3µg
  • 85g of Drained, Canned Tuna In Oil provides 5.7µg
  • 1 cup of Whole Milk contains 3.2µg
  • 1 cup of Low/Non-Fat Milks contains 2.9µg
  • 1 tbsp of Margarine provides 1.5µg

For vegetarians and vegans, there are also some foods that can provide vitamin D however, these plant-based foods provide vitamin D2, a less preferred form of vitamin D. Fortified foods, like cereals, bread, plant milks and orange juice are often fortified with vitamin D, but again, in the D2 form.

Below are some vegetarian and vegan food options...

  • 1 cup of Fortified Orange Juice contains 2.5µg
  • 1 large Hard Boiled Egg will provide around 1.1µg
  • 1 cup Almond Milk contains 2.4µg
  • ⅓ to 1¼ Cup Of Fortified Cereals contains 0.2-2.5µg of vitamin D
  • ½ cup of Mushrooms can provide between 1.4 - 1.7µg

Vegetarians can obtain vitamin D3 from mushrooms that have been in the sun. A study by NCBI found that when fresh button mushrooms were placed in midday sun for 15 minutes to two hours, they often generated more than 10μg of vitamin D2. However, this can vary depending on the season.

Aside from that, Vitamin D3 comes primarily from animal food sources, so vegetarian vitamin D3 supplements can be a helpful nutritional support.

What Should I Look For In A Vitamin D Supplement?

The NHS recommends all adults and children from five years consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D during the UK winter months. More recently, with people spending so much more time indoors, this advice has been extended to all the year round.

The Vitabiotics Ultra Vitamin D range provides varying levels of vitamin D3, from 400IU to 4000IU. Ultra Vitamin D 4000IU provides 100µg of vitamin D - Vitabiotics’ highest strength vitamin D supplement. This highest strength product is recommended for use under the guidance or supervision of your pharmacist or health professional.

For children aged 7-14 years, Wellkid Marvel Vitamin D provides 12.5µg of vitamin D3. Wellkid Immune Chewable, for children aged 4-12 7µg of vitamin D3 per tablet.

The NHS advises that adults do not take more than 100μg of vitamin D each day, so be sure to follow supplement guidelines.

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Alexandra Phillips

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