What is it?
Produced by the action of UV light on skin, vitamin D plays a major role in many conditions from immunity to heart disease. Up to 6o per cent of us are deficient in vitamin D owing to lack of sunlight during winter and over-zealous sun care.
What does it do?
Builds bones: A recent research review by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that vitamin D combined with calcium, especially in childhood, may prevent fractures from osteoporosis later in life.
Boosts energy: A study by Newcastle University found vitamin D supplements can enhance mitochondria activity, the ‘batteries’ inside every cell, boosting energy.
Enhances immunity: the sunshine vitamin regulates the lymphocyte cells of the immune system so protecting against colds and flu, and other infections.
Protects your heart: A Danish study found that those with the highest vitamin D levels were 64 per cent less likely to have heart attacks and 40 per cent less likely to have coronary heart disease.
When do I need it?
Previous guidelines recommended supplements for pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, those over 65, people whose skin is darker those who cover up or don’t get outdoors much. However, revised 2016 guidelines from Public Health England have recommended supplementation for everyone between October and April when the sun in the UK isn’t strong enough.
FIND OUT MORE: What you need to know about the new vitamin D guidelines
How do I get it?
Eat: Good sources include oily fish, eggs, liver and fortified foods such as cereals, spreads and milk powder.
Soak up the rays: daily sun exposure, minus any sun protection, for around 15 minutes – way before you burn.
Take: Neither diet nor sun exposure during winter supply enough vitamin D, so take a daily D3 supplement. As it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, take it with your main meal, including some fat, to increase absorption.