Vitamin D

Help beat the vitamin D deficiency

Why is vitamin D so important?

Vitamin D is essential for strong, healthy bones and teeth. You can get it from sunlight on the skin and diet, and it works to support your bones by aiding the absorption of calcium. Most people know about the importance of calcium for healthy bones and teeth but not many people know that your body struggles to absorb calcium without vitamin D. This is most important in early childhood when growing bones are developing.

Low levels of vitamin D mean your bones aren’t getting the support they need to develop properly.

The density of your bones decreases after 30 which impacts balance and muscle strength. This is why older people are at increased risk of bone fractures following falls.* Before you turn 30 is the best time to build up your bone density. After you turn 30, vitamin D intake is still important to ensure you maintain your bone density as you age.

*For 60 years and over: Vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of falls associated with loss of balance and muscle weakness. Falling is a risk factor for bone fractures among those who are 60 and over. Taking 20 mcg of vitamin D daily can reduce the risk of falling.

What causes low levels of vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found in food, but only in small amounts. The main source of vitamin D is from the sun. However, you can’t get the right amounts of vitamin D from your diet alone and in the winter months it’s impossible to get enough of it from the winter sun.

Natural sources of vitamin D

The main source of vitamin D is from sunlight, but remember not to stay out in the sun too long. Too much sun can be a serious health threat. Never deliberately expose skin to the sun without using appropriate sun protection and always wear a minimum of SPF 15 and five star UVA protection.

Even though it is hard to obtain the right levels from your diet, there are some foods that contain high levels of vitamin D. Foods with higher levels of vitamin D include:

• Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon

• Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals

• Beef liver

• Cheese

• Egg yolks

The amount of vitamin D you need to take can vary dependant on your age, skin type and any illnesses you may have so you should speak to your pharmacist or other health professional if you have any concerns.

Vitamin D2 & D3

The two most important forms of vitamin D you can find are D2 and D3. D2 is produced by plants and D3 is the one made by your skin when you get enough sunlight. Research shows that D3 is generally better absorbed than D2 so we suggest that you choose a vitamin D3 supplement or one that contains enough of both.

Vitamin D3 supplements are usually suitable for vegetarians (but see each pack for details) but not for vegans, while vitamin D2 products can be suitable for vegans. 

Vitamin D supplements

There are many different blends of vitamin D and other supplements, to suit individual needs. At Boots we offer a large range of our own brand products that contain vitamin D, along with other supplements. 

How to understand units

You might find several symbols and units used to describe the vitamin D content of a product.

Vitamin D is measured in micrograms. This can be written as mcg or µg. ‘µg’ is the symbol you should find in nutrition tables on packs of vitamin D supplements.