22nd April 2020
BNF supports Government advice to consider taking vitamin D supplements through spring and summer while under lockdown.
With many people experiencing reduced access to sunlight while staying at home, Public Health England (PHE) has reissued its recommendation for vitamin D supplementation, advising that we should all consider taking a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement throughout spring and summer while the lockdown continues, because we may not be getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure. PHE’s advice on vitamin D is not about preventing coronavirus but for maintaining muscle and bone health.
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) supports PHE’s advice, agreeing that, while most people can get enough of the vitamins and minerals they need through a healthy, balanced diet; it is difficult to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through food sources alone. Skin synthesis in response to spring and summer sunshine is the main source for most of us.
Sara Stanner, Science Director, BNF explains: “In normal circumstances, at this time of year the warmer weather means we may get outdoors more often for walks, picnics in the park or trips to the beach. Unfortunately, as the effects of coronavirus continue, many of us are limited in the time we can spend outdoors. Correctly abiding by government rules and staying at home is immensely important and, while many of us have limited access to sunlight, this means we need to take a little extra care to keep our vitamin D levels healthy. If you’re purchasing supplements, it’s important not to buy more than you need to help keep supplies of supplements available for everyone.”
Vitamin D is essential for keeping bones and muscles healthy. While the role of vitamin D in bone health is well recognised, it is also involved in supporting the immune system, along with other nutrients, helping it to function correctly. Evidence suggests that vitamin D may increase resistance to common colds and flu, particularly for people who have low vitamin D status. But it’s important to note that we don’t currently have evidence that vitamin D can reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
Stanner continues: “While it is difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D through diet alone, dietary supply remains important. Vitamin D is found naturally in oily fish, including salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggs, some mushrooms, and in foods fortified with vitamin D such as breakfast cereals, fat spreads and yogurts. Red meat can also contribute to vitamin D intakes”.
For those looking to increase their vitamin D intake from food you could start the day with a breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin D, have some poached eggs or an omelette at lunch time, and then an oily fish-based dinner – you can use canned or fresh oily fish like salmon.
For more information on PHE’s updated vitamin D recommendations, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/
For information about food sources of vitamin D, please see
For further information or interviews please contact [email protected], 07818040144.
About the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF)
Translating evidence-based nutrition science in engaging and actionable ways
BNF was established 50 years ago and exists to deliver authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition in the context of health and lifestyle. The Foundation’s work is conducted and communicated through a unique blend of nutrition science, education and media activities. BNF’s strong governance is broad-based but weighted towards the academic community. BNF is a registered charity that attracts funding from a variety of sources, including contracts with the European Commission, national government departments and agencies; food producers and manufacturers, retailers and food service companies; grant providing bodies, trusts and other charities. Further details about our work, governance and funding can be found on our website (www.nutrition.org.uk) and in our Annual Reports.