Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
Vitamin D - sometimes called the Sunshine Vitamin - plays an essential role in good health as it helps our bodies to absorb calcium, therefor keeping our bones and teeth strong and healthy1. Our own bodies can produce Vitamin D just by exposing our skin to sunlight. From early Spring to early Autumn most of us get more than enough Vitamin D (10 micrograms2, or 400 International Units) naturally - it can take just 10 minutes if you pop outside between 11am and 3pm. But once the winter months settle in, getting enough Vitamin D can be quite a struggle. The sun's rays are much weaker and thus even going outside during the day isn't likely enough. During these months it's best to look for alternative sources of Vitamin D. However take care not to take too much Vitamin D as it could be harmful3.
So how can you find Vitamin D when the sun isn't enough?
Like all vitamins, you can find supplements for Vitamin D in most pharmacies. There are two types of Vitamin D supplements you can get, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is derived from plants, whereas Vitamin D3 is derived from animals and is the same Vitamin D your body produces. There have been studies surmising that Vitamin D2 is less effective than D34 and the National Osteoporosis Society recommends Vitamin D3 when treating Vitamin D deficiency5.
In the USA and Canada, milk is fortified with Vitamin D to help combat Vitamin D deficiency. In Britain, our milk doesn't go through the same process, however there are a few types of food that are fortified with vitamin D. Cereal is a good place to start - Kellogs has added up to 50% of the daily required Vitamin D to a variety of their cereals including Cocoa Pops, Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies6. You might also fight Vitamin D in alternative milks like Almond7 or Oat milk8! You can also find Yeast Flakes which have Vitamin D - these have a nutty, cheesy kind of flavour and are favoured by vegans. They make a tasty salad topping.
Fatty fish is known to be a particularly good source of Vitamin D. Herring is the best source of Vitamin D when it comes to fish - but it's closely followed by salmon (canned and wild), kipper, rainbow trout and mackerel9. A dose of cod liver oil also contains about half a day's Vitamin D - so if you're already taking this then you're halfway there10!
Like us humans, mushrooms can convert UV rays into Vitamin D, and a serving of mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light can provide an entire day's worth of Vitamin D11. Do keep in mind that most commercial mushrooms are produced in dark warehouses and when bought will may not provide worthwhile Vitamin D, however you can find mushrooms that have been exposed to light in Tesco12.
Though not super high in Vitamin D, you can find small amounts of it in eggs. The Vitamin D is sourced from the yolk and not the white, so make sure you're not just eating the whites. A single egg medium egg should provide about 1.6 mcg of Vitamin D13.