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New guidance advises a daily dose of vitamin D is needed daily to help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy

Doctors across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are backing new public health guidance which advises a daily dose of vitamin D is needed daily to help keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

As our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin, most of us are able to get enough of it from being outdoors especially between April and October.  Some foods such as oily fish, red meat and eggs also provide vitamin D.  It is also added to all infant formula milk as dictated by law, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives. The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts.

During autumn and winter, Public Health England advises us that everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. However, because it is difficult for people to meet the required minimum recommendation from eating foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D, people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during these months.

Dr Phil Huxley, Chair at NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group and a GP based in Earby, said: “Living where we do in the UK, we aren’t always guaranteed to get enough sunshine to make sufficient Vitamin D, nor can we rely on always eating enough of the foods that either naturally contain it or have been fortified with it.”

Vitamin D is important as it helps the body regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate which are the nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.  A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as ricketsin children.  Rickets can cause bone pain, poor growth and bone deformities, such as bowed legs, curvature of the spine, and thickening of the ankles, wrists and knees. Children with rickets are also more likely to fracture their bones.  Rickets can also affect adults and is known as osteomalacia or soft bones.

Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “You can buy vitamin D supplements at most pharmacies and supermarkets, and women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing the recommended amounts of vitamin D.”

Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D, and the Department of Health recommends that these people should take daily vitamin D supplements, to make sure they get enough. 

These groups are:  

  • all babies from birth to one year of age (including breastfed babies and formula fed babies who have less than 500ml a day of infant formula) 
  • all children aged one to four years old   
  • people who are not often exposed to the sun – for example, people who are frail or housebound, or are in an institution such as a care home, or if they usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors

For more information about vitamin D visit NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk