Nutrient Focus: Vitamin D Part 2

Words: Angela Dowden
Angela Dowden studied food science at Nottingham University and worked as a nutritionist before becoming a freelance writer. She's been writing about health, food and nutrition for magazines and national newspapers for 10 years.

If you're wondering how you can receive the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D when all advice points towards protecting our skin from the sun, you're probably not alone. Whilst some experts tell us to stay out of the sun, others warn that the use of sunscreen is leaving us deprived of Vitamin D.

The Health Research Forum suggest that white-skinned people may need up to three 20 minutes session per week of sun exposure, during the summer in the middle of the day and without sunscreen in order to produce healthy levels of this vitamin. As this level of sun exposure could lead to skin damage, it may be better to replace these sun sessions with a supplement. Those with darker skin are less likely to be penetrated by the sun's rays, so they are more likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D.

It is recommended by the FSA that a 10mcg Vitamin D supplement is taken if you:
- Are rarely outdoors
- Tend to cover up when you go outside
- Are of African or Asian origin
- Are pregnant or breast-feeding
- Elderly
- Rarely or never eat meat or oily fish

Food sources of vitamin D include:
50g goats cheese - 0.25mcg
1 pint of whole cows milk - 0.3mcg
100g grilled herring - 16mcg
100g sardines in tomato sauce - 8mcg
100g canned tuna in brine - 3.6mcg
1 bowl fortified breakfast cereal - 2.5mcg
1 boiled egg - 1mcg

How much should I take?
Take one 10mcg tablet daily, preferably with a meal.

Consult your doctor before you take the supplement if you are under medical supervision, pregnant or breast-feeding.