Vitamin D deficiency during Covid-19

Due to current measures, many of us may be going outside less often or may be in self-isolation. To ensure a healthy vitamin D status, all adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D.

All babies under one year should be given a daily supplement of 8.5-10 micrograms unless they have more than 500mls of fortified formula milk.

Sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from. So even a healthy, well-balanced diet, that provides all the other vitamins and nutrients you need is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D. You make vitamin D under your skin when you are outside in daylight. Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. It is also important in protecting muscle strength and preventing rickets, osteomalacia (bone softening) and falls.

Key Message

1. Why is Vitamin D important?

  • Vitamin D is essential for bone and muscle health
  • Vitamin D may help prevent respiratory infections in those who have low vitamin D levels
  • Vitamin D is seasonal and cannot be made during the winter-time while the amount in the summertime is subject to sunshine, weather and other factors

2. Who is at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?

  • People who are housebound/confined, have little exposure to the sun and/or eat inadequate amounts of fortified foods
  • People who don’t take vitamin D supplements - currently over 91% of older adults 55+ do not take a supplement during the winter
  • People who are obese, physically inactive, have asthma or chronic lung disease

3. Where is vitamin D found? 

  •  Vitamin D is made in the skin from 10-15 minutes per day of sun exposure - in England only made from late March to late September
  • Vitamin D is available in oily fish (salmon, mackerel etc.), eggs, liver, fortified foods such as cereals and dairy products

You can also eat plenty of vitamin D rich foods, including:

Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, pilchards, trout, herring, kippers contain reasonable amounts of vitamin D. Cod liver oil contains a lot of vitamin D, but don’t take this if you are pregnant.

Egg yolk, meat, offal and milk contain small amounts, but this varies during the seasons.

Margarine, some breakfast cereals, infant formula and some yoghurts have added vitamin D.

We are inviting people with diabetes and those at risk of type 2 to sign up for the Know Diabetes service