How do I get Enough Vitamin D

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) brought out new guidelines on how much Vitamin D is recommended:

  • a new reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 10mcg (400IU) of vitamin D a day, for everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older
  • an RNI of 10mcg of Vitamin D per day for pregnant and breastfeeding women and population groups at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency
  • an updated ‘safe intake’ of 8.5 to 10mcg per day for infants from birth to 1 year
  • an updated ‘safe intake’ of 10mcg of Vitamin D per day for children aged 1 to 4

What the new Vitamin D recommendations mean for us?

We now have more data and more studies looking into requirements and intakes in the UK and this is why the recommendations have changed. This has allowed SACN to make more specific recommendations for different groups and members of the public.

Previous research has shown that many people, especially in the winter months, are low in vitamin D.  However, especially during the winter, when there isn’t much sunlight, it can be hard for everyone to reach their RNI of 10mcg of vitamin D/day.

Point 1: Therefore SACN have recommended that during autumn and winter everyone from the age of 4 and up should aim to get some Vitamin D from their diet and take a Vitmain D supplement if necessary.

Point 2: For those in ‘at risk’ groups, who have little exposure to the sun, it’s recommended that they should consider taking 10mcg of vitamin D as a supplement everyday throughout the year.  

Vitamin D recommendations for children are as follows:

The new Vitamin D recommendations suggest a ‘safe intake’ of 8.5-10mcg for infants from 0 to 1 year of age.

As infants and toddlers get minimal exposure to the sun, and are unlikely to get enough vitamin D from foods it is therefore essential that:

Point 3: Infants from 0-1 year of age, who are breastfeeding of mixed feeding, receive a form of vitamin D supplement every day throughout the year.

Children who are fully formula fed do not need a vitamin D supplement until they are having less than around 500 mls of formula a day.

Point 4: In the UK children between the ages of 1 and 4 years are now recommended a ‘safe intake’ of 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day and therefore should also be given a daily supplement of 10mcg of Vitamin D everyday throughout the year.

Luckily mums can also get Vitamin D from fortified milk which is in cow’s milk specifically enriched with Vitamin D to help children in meeting their recommended intakes!  For children between 4 and 11 years of age, the same recommendations stand as those for the rest of the public – 10mcg are recommended each day during the winter months but you can choose to take them throughout the year if you wish to, or if they are in an ‘at risk’ group.

Why do we need vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a hormone that is needed in the body to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our body. Vitamin D, as well as calcium, is needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Without enough of it we may see children developing a bone disease called rickets and osteomalacia developing in adulthood.

Where does vitamin D come from?

Vitamin D mainly comes from sunlight, specifically in the months from April to September. There is also vitamin D in foods like oily fish, red meat, egg yolk, wild mushrooms, fortified breakfast cereals as well as in fortified milks and spreads.

However, the amount you get from food is fairly low. To meet requirements of 10mcg per day of Vitamin D from your diet, you would need to eat the following every day;

6 egg yolks, 1 salmon fillet, 6 x UV-exposed mushrooms, 125g margarine and 6 x 100g pots of petit filou DAILY!!!



µg = microgram (mcg)

UI = international unit

10mcg is equal to 400IU.