As we’re spending more time in our homes, a daily dose of Vitamin D has never been more important to help you and your family stay well. During the lockdown, the NHS recommends everyone to consider taking a daily dose of 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
If you’d like a little more of the sunshine vitamin in your life, but don’t know which type of vitamin D is best for you? Don’t worry, we’re on the case!
Our nutritionists have created a handy guide outlining which type and form of vitamin D will help you thrive. Whether you’re looking for vitamin D for adults, vegans, children and babies or for when you’re pregnant, there’s a type for everyone.
Just before we discover which type of vitamin D is best for you and your family, here’s some information about the different types of vitamin D and how they’re made.
How many types of vitamin D are there?
There are 2 main forms of vitamin D:
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – made by plants, with wild mushrooms and those grown under a UV light being the best source
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – made by our skin when we’re exposed to enough sunlight. Animals products like fish, meat, eggs and dairy as well as a vegan-friendly fungus called lichen also naturally contain this type of vitamin D
Is vitamin D3 better than vitamin D2?
Yes, vitamin D3 has been proven to be better absorbed and utilised by the body than vitamin D2. Read more about the difference between vitamin D2 and D3 here.
Should I take a vitamin D supplement?
It is possible to get enough vitamin D through your diet and exposure to sunlight. But with 1 in 5 of people in the UK having low levels, it evidently isn’t that easy. That’s why products like orange juice, breakfast cereal, faux meat and plant milks are fortified with the vitamin, and why a lot of people choose to take a vitamin D supplement.
In fact, the NHS recommends that everyone in the UK should think about taking a daily vitamin D supplement, especially during autumn and winter. Vulnerable groups like the over 65s, people with darker skin and those who cover up their skin for religious or cultural reasons are advised to take a year-round vitamin D supplement.1
Do I need to take a vitamin D supplement when I’m pregnant?
It is especially important to make sure your vitamin D levels are topped up when you’re pregnant. Not only will it help keep you healthy and your immune system healthy throughout your pregnancy, but it also plays an important role in your baby’s development.
A growing baby in the womb can’t make its own vitamin D, so it relies on you to have enough in your body for both of you. It allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphate to help your baby’s bones grow, especially in the second half of your pregnancy. Read more about the importance of vitamin D in pregnancy here.
The Department of Health England recommends that pregnant women receive 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D per day2. As this is difficult to obtain through diet and sunlight absorption alone, a supplement could be helpful to top levels up, especially for women who are pregnant during spring or winter and women with darker skin – as they won’t absorb as much sunlight.
Which vitamin D supplements are recommended for pregnant women?
It’s likely you will be taking various supplements during your pregnancy, so it’s important that it contains at least 10µg of vitamin D or you take an individual vitamin D3 10µg tablet.
A good pregnancy support supplement duo is folic acid and vitamin D, as folic acid (aka folate) is also very important for pregnancy. Taking supplements formulated specifically for pregnant women makes sure that you don’t risk taking too much vitamin A, which is not recommended during pregnancy.
Is vitamin D important for children and babies?
Yes, vitamin D is very important for growing little ones. It helps them maintain normal bones, teeth and muscle function and supports their normal immunity. As vitamin D3 is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight, living in less sunny climes (like the UK) can be an issue, especially in the darker and colder months.
In fact, the Department of Health England recommends that every child over the age of 1 takes a daily 10µg supplement, as well as implementing some fortified foods into their diet and spending time outside in the sunlight3.Remember, we only need 10 minutes of direct sunlight on exposed and unprotected skin (arms, legs, hands and faces) to produce vitamin D. To find out more, read our guide on vitamin D for children here. Babies under 1 need vitamin D too, read more about that below.
What type of vitamin D is best for children?
The government recommends a supplement of at least 10µg of vitamin D for children over the age of 1 and 8.5-10µg for babies under 1 year old 4. But getting children to take a supplement in tablet or capsule form is easier said than done – we get it! Thankfully, there are some child-friendly supplements out there, read about some below.
Vitamin D drops for kids: No swallowing necessary – vitamin D drops are perhaps the sneakiest way to get your children and babies to take their vitamin D supplement. Our Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 Drops provide a perfect dose of vitamin D3 for children from 6 months to five years. They’re odour- and taste-free too, so you can mix them into your little one’s drinks and food – a completely incognito way of giving them their daily dose of vitamin D! Alternatively, just drop it onto their tongue – easy.
Chewable vitamin D for children: It looks like a sweet treat, it tastes like a sweet treat, no wonder your kids will probably prefer chewable vitamin D capsules! We stock a wide range of chewable vitamin D, like Wellkid Peppa Pig Vitamin D Soft Jellies which contain the exact level of Vitamin D recommended by the Department of Health England5.We also offer child and Teen Omega 3 Fish Oil Chewy Capsules with Vitamin D , so they get their all-important omega 3s along with their daily dose of vitamin D.
Do babies need vitamin D?
Yes, babies under 1 year’s old need vitamin D too. Babies up to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement that contains 8.5 – 10 µg every day6 to make sure they’re reaching recommended levels. This still applies if the breastfeeding mother is taking a supplement herself. However, babies fed infant formulas won’t need a vitamin D supplement if they’re having more than 500ml of formula a day as it will already by fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
The easiest way to provide breast-fed babies with vitamin D is with vitamin D drops. We have a Vitamin D3 Drop formula that is specifically designed for babies to take daily from birth until they are 12 months old.
Can vegans take a vitamin D supplement?
Vegans can be more susceptible to a vitamin D deficiency. The double whammy of not getting enough sunlight during the winter months and not being able to eat most of the food sources of vitamin D can make it a little more difficult.
However, even with meat, dairy and eggs off the menu, there are still natural vegan sources of vitamin D like mushrooms for vitamin D2 and lichen for vitamin D3. As these are limited, a vitamin D supplement is recommended. Especially for vitamin D3 as we don’t think many vegans will be chowing down on some lichen!
What type of vitamin D is best for vegans?
Here’s some vegan-friendly ways to get your vitamin D:
Vegan vitamin D capsules: Capsules are what most people imagine of when thinking of vitamin supplements. Alas, many vitamin D tablets and capsules contain a non-vegan source of vitamin D3, like sheep lanolin or fish oils. Don’t worry though, we have a solution! Our Mushroom Vegan Vitamin D Capsules contain 25µg of vitamin D2 in each capsule and you only have to take one a day.
Vegan vitamin D spray: If you want a vegan source of the faster-acting vitamin D3 or simply can’t stand taking tablets or capsules, a vitamin D spray could be for you. Vitamin D sprays act incredibly fast as they bypass the digestive system and deliver vitamin D directly into the bloodstream. Not all vitamin D sprays are vegan, but BetterYou Dlux Vegan Vitamin D Spray is. Give it a go and see if it works for you.
What supplement should I take if I am at risk of low vitamin D?
The government recommendation stays at a minimum of 10µg vitamin D a day for vulnerable groups like the over 65s, people with darker skin and those who cover a lot of their skin for religious reasons, etc. They just recommend that you take it all year round, and not just in autumn and winter.
We hope this guide has helped you determine which vitamin D supplement is best for you. As always, this information cannot replace medical care, so please check with your doctor before trying any remedies.
Last updated: 28 May 2020