Where does vitamin D come from?

Vitamin D (vitamin D3) is created in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight. In the UK, between May and September, about 20 to 30 minutes a day spent outdoors in direct sunshine in the middle of the day will meet vitamin D needs for most fair skinned people1. Factors such as darker skin, the use of sunscreen, levels of pollution and the unpredictability of the British summer can all lower availability and between October and April, the level of ultraviolet is too low for vitamin D to be made.

There are dietary sources of vitamin D3 from fish and dairy products and vitamin D2 from plant sources, but at much lower levels than from sunlight. As a result, levels of vitamin D in the UK are generally low. The Department of Health reports that a quarter of the population have no more than a third of what is considered an adequate level

How much should you take?

The recommended daily intake in the UK is based on reducing the risk of rickets and is widely considered to be too low. In August 2012, the European Food Safety Authority increased the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (the levels that can be taken daily without causing harm) to 4000IU. Some authors feel this is also too low – for instance, the authors of the birth month data suggest 5000IU per day for adults and 10,000IU for pregnant women.

NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) has begun to consider the implementation of existing guidance on vitamin D, a review that will look at its role in general rather than specifically in MS. A consultation on the draft version of this is expected towards the end of the year 2013.

Sources of Vitamin D

Sunlight- Fish Mushrooms – Fortified Cereals – Eggs – Cheese – Butter – Milk.

NOTE: Before you take any form of medication please seek medical advice. This information was sourced from the MS Trust Website. For more on Vitamin D –  Please visit the MS TRUST and MS SOCIETY.