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Osteoporosis health centre

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Vitamin D for osteoporosis

Having enough vitamin D from sunlight and food in a healthy balanced diet is an important part of protecting bone health and helping to prevent conditions like osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is found in some food, including eggs, milk and oily fish.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium that bones and teeth need to stay healthy.

Up to a quarter of the UK population has low levels of vitamin D in their blood.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to softening of the bones called osteomalacia, the adult version of rickets in children.

Most of the vitamin D we need comes from regular exposure to sunlight. Most people know that too much sun can be bad for the skin, but too little is bad for the bones. The British climate doesn’t help this process.

Since the summer of 2016, health officials from Public Health England and the Welsh Government are recommending people get 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day though their diet or supplements.

The UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) made the recommendation after reviewing all the evidence on vitamin D and health. It couldn’t determine how much vitamin D we get though skin being exposed to the sun - so instead focuses on diet.

It is hard to get the daily amount of vitamin D needed from food, so most adults and children aged 4 and over are asked to consider supplements containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day during autumn and winter.

Supplements are recommended all year round for people with dark skin, including people from African, African-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds.

Depending on skin type, the NHS recommends around 10-15 minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen during the summer. That should help the body store enough vitamin D to use all year round.

Seek medical advice if you have concerns about your vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D supplements taken with calcium have also been shown to help to reduce the risk of hip fractures in older people.

Doctors can check whether a person is short of vitamin D using a blood test. This may be done as part of overall checks to assess a person's risk of breaking bones if they have a fall.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith on July 22, 2016

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