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Hello Sunshine: Why We Need Vitamin D 

We don’t get much sun here in the UK, but when we do, we really bask in it — soaking up as much vitamin D as we can. For the other 50 weeks of the year, we don’t get nearly enough of this immunity-boosting and bone-fortifying vitamin, so we have to find it elsewhere. In our guide, we run through what vitamin D is, why we need it and how to get it. 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a hormone produced from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to the sun. The benefit of sunlight exposure enables our body to produce vitamin D, which is essential for us to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, helping keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. 

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common and can have symptoms including fatigue, a poor immune system, back pain, depression and slow healing. 

What happens when we’re deficient in Vitamin D?

Our body isn’t able to function at 100% and a variety of symptoms can occur: tiredness, hair loss, aches and pains. However, if we’re severely deficient in vitamin D, we are at risk of developing thinning of our bones, which leads to fractures.

In recent years scientists have learned that it has many other important roles in our bodies, including boosting our immune system, helping prevent cancer, decreasing the risk of diabetes, improving symptoms of depression and reducing inflammation.

How can we get Vitamin D?

The number one source is the sun, but if you’re living in the UK, you’re not getting enough sunlight to produce the right amount. 

Having more melanin in your skin also makes absorbing vitamin D more difficult, so people of colour are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiencies. This makes getting vitamin D from other sources extremely important, especially in the winter months


Vitamin D can be found in some food sources: dairy, eggs, red meat and oily fish for example, but most of us only obtain about 10% of what we need through food. It’s a great way to increase your levels, but you’ll need to eat them every day to have enough (no complaints from us cheese-lovers).


Where diet falls short, supplements are considered the most efficient and effective way to make sure you have an adequate amount of vitamin D each day.

The NHS website recommends you take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep your bones and muscles healthy. Cod liver oil is also an excellent supplementary source. 

What’s the link between Vitamin D and our skin? 

First and foremost, our skin is what absorbs vitamin D, so it’s the body’s first point of contact. It’s also the only place our bodies can make vitamin D, which is why it’s so important that we top up our levels with supplements during the winter months. 

Our skin relies on vitamin D to carry out its normal functions and evidence is emerging from new studies suggesting that low vitamin D levels are linked to several skin diseases. These include acne, rosacea, psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, hair loss and skin cancer. Ongoing studies are actively looking at whether vitamin D replacement can improve these conditions. 

Will wearing SPF reduce my Vitamin D intake?

We’ve all been told to wear SPF every day for the sake of our skin health, so it’s understandable that many of us might be concerned that we’re not getting enough vitamin D as a result. The good news? Studies have shown that sunscreen doesn’t block the production of vitamin D in the body. 

Additionally, being out in nature is good for you – mentally and physically, even if you’re sitting still. Research shows that simply spending time outside can rapidly improve your mental and physical health. Stress levels are proven to drop upon entering a green space, and it has a positive effect on our blood pressure and heart rate. 

The main risk of sun exposure is skin damage and skin ageing, both of which can be protected against with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher, with UVA and UVB protection – see our picks for this here

Medical facts checked by Dr Jason Thomson.

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