Vitamin D is a nutrient that the body produces when skin is exposed to sunlight. However, many people in the UK aren’t getting enough sun exposure to make sufficient amounts of vitamin D, particularly in the winter. This could be due to reduced time spent outdoors and could be detrimental to our bone health as vitamin D plays a key part in calcium absorption. In fact, sustained vitamin D deficiency can result into osteoporosis in the long-term, which is a condition causing bone weakness.
In addition to sunlight exposure, vitamin D can be acquired through diet. Even though it may be difficult to get enough through diet alone, a diet rich in vitamin D can help complement the amount produced by the body. Being on a restricted diet such as a strict vegan diet makes it more challenging to increase vitamin D intake through diet. However, newer food nutrition labels can be used for guidance as they show the amount of vitamin D contained in a particular food item.
Some of the best sources of vitamin D include:
Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin D as 100g of it provides your entire daily recommended intake. Other types of fatty fish such as sardines, herring, halibut and mackerel are also great sources of vitamin D. Fish is a great healthy food option as it is full of healthy fats, high-quality protein, and various other important nutrients which are difficult to find in other foods (such as iodine).
As well as being highly nutritious, eggs provide a great source of vitamin D. Most of an egg’s vitamin D content is found in the yolk, and the amount vastly depends on the chicken’s diet and feed given (some feed is enriched in vitamin D). Therefore, it is worth checking the labelling to assess the amount of vitamin D contained in eggs.
Foods that are fortified in vitamin D are a good option for those who do not like fish or follow a strict vegetarian / vegan diet. Some milks such as cow’s milk can be fortified in vitamin D, as well as containing calcium, which is a great combination to support our bone health. However, fortified cow’s milk may be difficult to find in the UK. As vitamin D found in food is mainly acquired through animal produce, a lot of the plant-based alternatives to milk (such as soy, oat and almond milk) are more commonly fortified in vitamin D and generally contain around 15% of the daily recommended value per cup. Orange juice fortified in vitamin D can also be found although it is not as common. Some cereals are also fortified in vitamin D and can help you boost your intake, although fortified options generally do not provide as much vitamin D as natural options.
Cod liver oil is very high in vitamin D, providing the entire daily recommended intake in a teaspoon. It also contains a high amount of vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. However, Cod liver oil should not be taken if you are pregnant or trying to have a baby, as vitamin A supplements can be harmful to unborn babies. Other vitamin D supplements are widely available in various forms such as tablets, liquids and gummies.
You should speak to your GP before taking any kinds of supplements as taking too much could be harmful.
Are you curious about your current vitamin D levels?
You can test your vitamin D levels from the comfort of your own home with our Total Home Test Kit, which also includes 33 key readings including a full blood count, key blood markers, immunity readings, as well as thyroid, liver and kidney function. All you need to do is order your kit, take your own sample, send it back in our pre-addressed return envelope, and wait to receive your results online within 8 days.
Alternatively, you can book a health check with one of our Certified Healthcare professionals at one of over 2,000 mobile clinics nationwide. We have two packages that include vitamin D readings:
- Essential Energy & Fatigue Plus: includes advanced vitamin deficiency checks (including vitamin D), a full blood count, and an advanced thyroid function check to help assess the impact your lifestyle and diet is having on your energy levels.
- Nutritional Therapy Plan: focuses on a “Eat Yourself Healthy” approach tailored to your health check results. We recommend this plan if you are also struggling with weight management, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, low mood and anxiety, fertility problems or chronic fatigue.