Making sure we get enough Vitamin D is essential for bone health, particularly in older adults. We can get it from our diet or through exposure of the skin to sunlight – this is why it is sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin. Where we are located in the Northern Hemisphere we only really get enough from the sun during the months from April to October. Dietary sources include oily fish, eggs, meats and foods fortified with Vitamin D.
What does it do?
Vitamin D’s main job is support bone health and prevent osteoporosis. It also helps with muscle strength. Low levels have been associated with a number of other diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, metabolic disorders, and cancers.
Why aren’t we getting enough?
Our location in the Northern Hemisphere, together with the use of sunscreens (which is important) and reduced time spent outdoors mean that we just don’t get enough sunlight to make enough Vitamin D. This is particularly true during the Winter months.
Babies from birth to 1 year of age, who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 5 micrograms of Vitamin D. We recommend Abidec.
Babies from birth to 1 year of age, who are fed infant formula should not be given a daily supplement if they are getting more than 300mls of infant formula a day. This is because infant formula is already fortified with vitamins and minerals. Babies receiving less than 300mls of formula a day should be given a supplement. Breastfeeding is still best for your baby from birth to six months. It just doesn’t have enough Vitamin D.
Children aged from 1 to 4 years of age should receive a daily Vitamin D supplement over the Winter months – we recommend giving it from Halloween to St Patrick’s Day.
People aged 65 and older should take a supplement containing at least 10 micrograms (or 400 IU) daily. If they live independently and get enough sunlight during the Summer then the supplement need only be taken from October to March. People or dark-skinned ethnicity should take this supplement all year round. Housebound people who don’t get much sunlight should take a supplement all year round containing at least 15 micrograms (or 600 IU daily).
Vitamin D and Coronavirus
Vitamin D is known to help the body’s immune system. In doing so, it may help the body to fight infections such as COVID-19.
Further information about food safety and hygiene in Ireland can be got from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland www.fsai.ie