We All Need More Vitamin D

To supplement or not to supplement? That is the question​


After years of heated debate, last week's breaking health news saw the UK's leading medical experts confirm the importance of vitamin D supplements to improve and preserve our long-term wellbeing. 

Also known as the 'sunshine vitamin', as it is best absorbed through the skin from exposure to sunlight, experts have long been at odds over whether we can effectively absorb any significant levels of the vitamin from the food we eat. 


Essential for calcium absorption – and for strong bones as we age – dietary vitamin D is certainly the most convenient way for residents of cloud-frequented Britain to give their skeletons a fighting chance. 

Well, the results are in and it's good news for those of us with minimal time or opportunity to bathe beneath clear blue skies. 


Experts from the Science Advisory Committee on Nutrition, who led a five-year study into vitamin D absorption, concluded that vitamin D rich foods and supplements are beneficial. 

In fact, as one in five people in the UK have insufficient vitamin D levels, Public Health England has stepped up to urge us to consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily. 

We currently eat an average of just 3 micrograms of vitamin D; coupled with low levels of year-round sunlight, this puts us at a greater risk of bone-related diseases and weaknesses. 

Women in particular should take note – history shows our bones degrade faster than our male counterparts. 

When we hit menopause, the loss of bone density accelerates rapidly (up to 20% in just 7 years), so keeping vitamin D levels topped up can only help to hedge our bets against calcium deficiency and irreversible bone loss later in life. 

But why supplement? Public Health England suggests taking a daily tablet as there are few foods with high levels of vitamin D, but a conscientious eater can certainly hit their daily 10mg with a little careful meal planning.  


The best sources are oily fish and red meat – yet another argument for making room for more protein in your diet. 

Vegetarians can look to eggs and fortified cereals and breads to (literally) fortify your bones. 

As vitamin D is fat soluble, getting your fix alongside high-fat foods will further support your bone health. 

That means eating both the egg whites and the yolks, and mixing your cereals with good fats. 

Skip the skimmed milk and go for minimum 2%, or tuck into your fortified toast with a healthy dollop of smashed avocado. 

The important thing to bear in mind is that the now ubiquitous study's emphasis is on the national deficiency in vitamin D. 

Even the experts admit that absorption through food varies from person to person, and the best source of the sunshine vitamin continues to be – believe it or not – from regular exposure to sunshine. 

So while you eat smart to hedge your bets against deteriorating bone health, don't forget to include regular weight-based exercise in your health routine too. 

Resistance training has a direct link to increased calcium deposits, so strengthening your muscles will naturally strengthen the bones to which they're attached. 

Better yet – take your workout outdoors while the summer is here and feel the sun on your skin while you can. 

You'll double the bone-boosting benefits of your workout, and get just a little closer to your annual sunshine quota in the process. 

Just make sure to pack your sunscreen and stay skin-safe as well bone-smart. 

Brit Williams is the founder of Fit Brit Collective. Between training clients, running bootcamps and teaching classes across SW London's leading studios, she is proud to work with ELLE to bring you the latest fitness news, trends and advice. Her fitness philosophy is simple – the endorphins you earn have the greatest power to transform.   

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