Do I need to take vitmain D supplements?
In the UK, the recommendation to to supplement the diet with vitamin D during the months of October through to March, or if you are unable to go outside during daylight hours in the Spring and Summer months. This is because the main source of vitamin D is not from the diet, but actually from UVB sunlight on your skin which causes your body to produce vitamin D.
There are some foods that contain vitamin D which may contribute to your intake, but food alone is rarely enough to maintain adequate vitamin D blood levels. Originally it was thought that vitamin D made during spring and summer months was adequate enough to support levels throughout the winter months. However, this has been found to not be the case with an estimated 20% of the UK population having inadequate levels of serum 25OHD. Recommendations to supplement the diet with 10µg (400IU) daily were introduced to the UK in 2016 by the Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition.
Animal derived foods which contain vitamin D include:
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings
- Dairy products
Plant-based foods containing vitamin D include:
- UVB irradiated mushrooms
- Fortified milk alternatives
- Some fortified breakfast cereals
As dietary intakes of vitamin D are inadequate to maintain healthy serum levels, supplementation is still required even if you aim to include as many of these foods as possible. I have plenty of vitamin D containing food recipes, which also contain lots of other beneficial nutrients, so a reminder that variety is the key to overall good health.
- Smoked mackerel pate
- Overnight oats
- Mushroom risotto (if made with specially UVB irradiated mushrooms could contain around 2µg per serving)
- Top my courgette fritters with an egg for around 1µg vitamin D from the egg.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, please speak to a trained health expert before taking extremely high doses without proper medical guidance.