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The Sunshine Vitamin

In this country sunshine can unfortunately be often in short supply, particularly during the winter months. In turn, this may lead to a vitamin D deficiency.

This important vitamin is needed for good health and strong bones, helping the body absorb calcium - one of bone's main building blocks - from food and supplements.

Vitamin D is important to the body in many other ways too. Muscles need it to move, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, the immune system needs it to fight off invading

bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

What foods provide vitamin D?

Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are among the best sources.

Mushrooms and eggs provide smaller amounts. Some breakfast cereals, milk and fat spreads are also fortified with the vitamin.

What about sunlight?

Most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially between 11am - 3pm. Care should be taken however, to avoid sunburn.

The current Public Health England advice is that adults should take a 10 mcg supplement of vitamin D during the autumn and winter months. This is because the weak sunshine in the U.K. does not contain sufficient UVB radiation between October and early March for our skin to make vitamin D.

bacteria and virusess.

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