Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed for healthy bones, and to control the amount of Calcium in our blood. There is recent evidence that it may prevent many other diseases.

What is the natural source of Vitamin D?

Only a few natural foods such as oily fish and eggs (20 – 40 units per egg) contain significant amounts of Vitamin D.

Sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D. In in most of the UK from November to February, and in Scotland from October to March, Vitamin D cannot be made from sunshine.

What is Vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency historically has been defined as a blood level of 25hydroxyVitaminD below 25nmol/L and insufficiency defined as levels between 25nmol/L to 50nmol/L.

Who is likely to get Vitamin D deficiency?

People particularly at risk are those with:

1. Increased need:

  • adolescents
  • obesity

2. Reduced sun exposure:

  • northern latitude, especially above 50 degrees latitude (eg UK)
  • season – in winter and spring
  • Asian and African people – dark skin needs more sunshine to make Vitamin D
  • immobility, eg inpatients or those with conditions like cerebral palsy
  • excessive use of sun block – most block UVB more than UVA

3. Limited diet (but remember sunshine is the most important source of Vitamin D):

  • vegetarians and vegans
  • prolonged breastfeeding – even if mother has sufficient Vitamin D
  • exclusion diets – eg milk allergy
  • malabsorption
  • liver disease
  • renal disease
  • some drugs – eg Anticonvulsants, Anti-TB drugs

Symptoms and signs in children

  • aches and pains
  • myopathy causing delayed walking;
  • rickets with bowed legs
  • knock knees
  • poor growth and muscle weakness

Symptoms and signs in Adolescents

  • aches and pains
  • muscle weakness
  • bone changes of rickets
  • osteomalacia

Standard prevention doses

Newborn up to 1 month:

  • Dose and frequency: 300 – 400 units daily
  • Examples of preparation: Abidec, Dalivit, Baby D drops and ‘Healthy Start’ Vitamins

1 month to 18 years:

  • Dose and frequency: 400 units – 1,000 units daily
  • Examples of preparation: Over-the-counter preparations eg: Abidec, Dalivit, Boots high strength Vitamin D, Ddrops, Holland & Barrett SunviteD3, DLux oral spray, SunVitD3 and Vitabiotics tablets

If you need this information in another format, eg. a different language, please ask a member of staff.

Ref: 10-19-134
Review: 06/21