A report commissioned by the government of the United Kingdom has provided timely advice regarding vitamin D intake as the nights slowly begin to drawn in and autumn and winter approach.
The report concludes that every citizen of the UK over the age of 12 months should be consuming 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D during the darker months as production due to the action of sunlight on the skin is unlikely to provide sufficient amounts of this vital nutrient.
Public health officials suggest people consume foods relatively rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals but warn even this may not be enough to avoid deficiency and health consequences that include brittle bones and rickets in children.
It has been estimatated that one in five adults and one in six children in England may have low levels.
Now, an extensive review of the evidence, carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), suggests everyone over the age of one needs to consume additional vitamin D from diet and/or nutritional supplements each day in order to protect bone and muscle health.
Officials from the SACN recommend to be safe that people 'top up' their dietary intake with a quality vitamin D supplement at 10 micrograms per day. This is equivalent to 400 IU (International Units) as commonly found on the labels of fat-soluble vitamins, of which vitamin D is one.
Commenting on the goverment report Dr David Mantle FRSC FRCPath, Medical Adviser at Pharma Nord said in a statement:
"UK health authorities have recently acknowledged what Pharma Nord has been advising for years - that people in the UK should consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement, particularly during the winter months. This is because vitamin D3 is mainly produced in the skin during exposure to strong sunlight, and sunlight levels in the UK are generally insufficient during the Winter for the body to manufacture sufficient vitamin D3.
Most people are aware of the importance of vitamin D3 for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, but vitamin D3 has many other functions within the body, including normal immune function. Public Health England have recommended a daily dose of vitamin D3 of 400IU, although this may be insufficient for some individuals. Certain categories of the population, for example dark skinned ethnic minorities, are at particular risk of vitamin D3 deficiency, which can be confirmed via a blood test."
While this report was produced by and for the UK population, it is worth pointing out that the findings apply equally to people living in othe nations and regions in the northern hemisphere with a latitude equal to or greater than that of the UK. Health authorities in each country set their own recommendations so if you are concerned you are not getting enough vitamin D during winter you should seek out this information and take appropriate action to protect yourself and your family, particularly infants, from deficiency every autumn and winter.
For more information see this article on the BBC website.