Most of our vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium from foods for healthy bones and teeth. Even if you have a calcium-rich diet (for example from eating plenty of dairy foods and green leafy vegetables), without enough vitamin D you cannot absorb the calcium into your bones and cells where it is needed.
In the UK, going outside for 15 minutes two or three times a week between 11am and 3pm during the summer months (April to September) without sun protection should be enough to produce sufficient vitamin D. During the winter, we get vitamin D from our body’s stores and from food sources. Foods rich in vitamin D include oily fish, eggs, meat, milk and fortified breakfast cereals/spreads but you cannot get enough vitamin D from food alone.
Adults aged over 65 years are not able to make sufficient vitamin D in their skin. All adults aged over 65 years, and all adults with low sun exposure should take a vitamin D supplement of 10 mcg per day.
If taking a vitamin D supplement do not take more than one supplement containing vitamin D (count cod-liver oil as a supplement). You should always choose a supplement tailored to your age group or condition, as fish liver oils and high dose multivitamin supplements often contain vitamin A, too much of which can cause liver and bone problems, especially in older people.
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