Find out about getting the right amount of vitamin D while staying at home.
Our body makes vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. During spring and summer most people get all the vitamin D they need. We also get vitamin D from eating a small range of foods, including oily fish – salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines – red meats and eggs.
Vitamin D helps to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It also plays an important role in the immune system, which helps our body fight infection.
There have been some reports that vitamin D reduces the risk of coronavirus but there is no evidence for this at the present time.
Exposure to sun
As it can be difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should try and spend some time outside where it is safe to do so, for example, in the garden or during their once-a-day exercise.
Ideally, this should include 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. Once sunscreen is applied, the body no longer makes vitamin D.
You should remember that staying in the sun for prolonged periods, without the protection of sunscreen, increases the risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D supplements
Healthy vitamin D levels are good for immunity and vitamin D supplements may protect against respiratory infections in general.
The risk of vitamin D deficiency is higher among certain groups, such as pregnant women, infants and young children and people who have darker skin, because their bodies are not able to make as much vitamin D.
We strongly recommend that people in the following groups take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Healthy Start vitamins, which contain vitamin D, are available to pregnant women in Wales under eighteen or in receipt of certain benefits. Ask your midwife or health visitor for further information or find out more on the Healthystart website.
- Infants and young children under five.
- Breastfed babies from birth to one years old should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
- Children aged one to four years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
- Formula-fed babies should only be given a vitamin D supplement if they are having less than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula is fortified with vitamin D.
- Healthy Start vitamins, which contain vitamin D, are available free to children under four, in families in receipt of certain benefits. Find out more on the Healthystart website.
- People who have darker skin, particularly people of African, South Asian or African-Caribbean origin.
- Older people aged 65 and over.
- People who are indoors all of the time and women who cover their skin when outside.
You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D (for children under five) at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Taking too much vitamin D can be harmful – please don’t buy or use more than you need.