Should you take vitamin D supplements?

It’s been all over the news, the government is recommending that we all take vitamin D supplements, but do we need to?

Are you worried about how much vitamin D you or your family are getting? With more and more of us staying in playing video games and checking out social media, we get out and about in the sunshine much less.

But how much vitamin D do you need?

New research carried out by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SCAN) has found that the DRVs (Dietary Reference values, how much you need a day) for vitamin D has been set too low in the UK and the study suggests the DRV should be set at 10µg (micrograms) for healthy bones and muscles.

We get most of our vitamin D through sunlight, but the research has found that most people are not getting enough so we must get more from our food.

Now, the government is concerned that we may not be able to get enough through diet alone and are advising that everyone should take supplements. But do we really need to?

Supplements

Here are the typical ingredients for a vitamin D supplement: Calcium Carbonate, Cellulose, Maltodextrin, Acacia, Sucrose, Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Maize Starch, Triglycerides, Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol, check out the industrial process here), Antioxidant (Tocopherol).

Would you be happy putting that into your body when you could just be getting it from your food if you knew the right foods to eat?

Earlier research from Health Research Council of New Zealand suggests that vitamin D supplements don’t reduce disease or fractures. They found no significant reduction in risk in any area after analysing more than 100 trials. They added that future studies were unlikely to change the figures.

So what should we do?

Remember the best way to get vitamin D is through sunlight so make sure you get 10 minutes a day between 11 and 2 without sunscreen on, when the sun is shining.

What should you eat?

One of the recommendations from the SCAN report is:

12.7 Food-based strategies for the UK general population (particularly pregnant women, children and ethnic subgroups) to achieve the RNI/Safe Intake for vitamin D should be explored and developed.

So let’s check out what we could be eating. Luckily vitamin D is stored in our bodies so if we get more one day and less another it’s not a problem.

Fish is a great way to top up your Vitamin D with oily fish, particularly salmon, and tinned fish high in this essential vitamin.

Don’t want to eat fish everyday then how about grandmas favourite cod liver oil. Just 1 teaspoon will give you the government’s recommended 10µg (micrograms). Be sure you buy a pure cod liver oil and not one with added vitamins. Beware, capsules will typically have just 1µg per 2 capsules.

For vegetarians, portabella mushrooms grown under UV lights and duck eggs are good sources of vitamin D.

To check out all of the foods highest in vitamin D just click here.

How do I know if I’m getting enough?

Simple keep a food diary. With the food tracker on www.checkyourfood.com it’s easy to input your food every day and the traffic lights report system lets you know at a glance how you are doing.

Plus all of our data and the health benefits and research we share are a curation of thousands of independent studies done over 100 years collated by respected organisations such as the Linus Pauling Institute, the National Center for Biotechnology Information and The National Academy of Sciences.

Got all of that? A quick recap

The best way to get your vitamin D is through sunlight, but the government is concerned we are not getting enough from the sun or our food and is suggesting supplements at 10µg a day.

If you don’t want to fill your body with supplements then find out what foods you need to eat to get your 10µg.

Keep a food diary so you can track your nutrient intake, not just vitamin D but all of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

NB At checkyourfood.com we use the official RDA for vitamin D provided by the National Academy of Sciences of 15µg per day.

Surya Wright
Co-Founder checkyourfood.com