Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) publish Vitamin D and health report

Last updated:
15 July 2016
SACN has advised everyone over one year of age, including pregnant women, breastfeeding women and those at risk of vitamin D deficiency (people with minimal exposure to sunshine and those from minority ethnic groups with dark skin), should get 10micrograms of vitamin D every day. Those under 1 year should be having 8.5-10 micrograms/day including those who are exclusively or partially breastfed.

SACN undertook an extensive review of evidence on Vitamin D. The 2016 Vitamin D and Health report highlights the importance of vitamin D in protecting musculoskeletal health and sets recommendations for daily intakes.

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. In the summer months vitamin D is made in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, however, in the winter months we don’t get any vitamin D from sunlight.  Vitamin D can also be obtained from the diet.

The advice for people aged 4 years and above is to follow a healthy, balanced diet and consider taking a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement in the autumn and winter months as it is difficult to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D.  

In spring and summer the majority of people get enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy, balanced diet. People who are seldom outdoors and those who cover up when outdoors, should take a daily supplement.

People from ethnic minority groups with darker skin e.g. those of African, African-Caribbean and South Asian origin should consider taking a daily supplement.

Children aged 1 to 4 years should be given a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement.

Breastfed babies should be given a daily 8.5 -10 micrograms of vitamin D supplement from birth until 1 year.

If babies are having over 500ml of infant formula a day then there is no need to give babies vitamin D supplement as the formula will contain vitamin D.

SACN did not make a recommendation about how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements. This is because there are many factors that affect the amount of vitamin D made in the skin.  SACN’s vitamin D recommendations therefore assume minimal sunlight exposure.

SACN also looked at possible links between vitamin D and non-musculoskeletal health outcomes including cancer, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart disease but found insufficient evidence to draw any firm conclusions.