Vitamin D supplementation of 10 micrograms (400IU) per day recommended for all age groups during the winter months

09 Dec 2020

Vitamin D is important to maintain bone and muscle health. Supplementation of 10micrograms (400IU) a day of vitamin D has been recommended by various bodies from the devolved nations for all age groups between the months of October to March.

Vitamin D is made naturally through exposure of sunlight. A sufficient level of vitamin D in the body is important for bone and muscle health protection. Lack of vitamin D can result in conditions such as rickets in children, bone and muscle weakness in adults and increase the risk of falls in the elderly. The relevant national bodies recommend that all age groups take a supplement providing 10 micrograms (400IU) of vitamin D a day, between the months of October to March. For full details, please see below:

For individuals who are in a higher risk group for vitamin D deficiency, a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement is recommended to be taken all year round. This includes people who:

  • Have low exposure to the sun
  • Reside in care homes
  • Cover up most of the skin when outdoors
  • Have dark skin, for example, African, African- Caribbean or south Asian backgrounds.

Greater importance has been placed on vitamin D supplementation this year because individuals have been spending more time indoors or shielding due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and may not have made sufficient vitamin D. Since it is difficult to obtain vitamin D from foods, it is recommended to take vitamin D supplements as per the recommended guidelines. Please check the NPA member news on vitamin D guidance for further details: https://www.npa.co.uk/information-and-guidance/vitamin-d-updated-guidance/

 

Key points for pharmacy teams

  • There is insufficient evidence to prove vitamin D can potentially reduce the risk of COVID-19 and further research is being undertaken; it is advised to follow the current guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from relevant national bodies
  • Clinically vulnerable individuals in England will be offered free vitamin D supplements during the winter months. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/at-risk-groups-to-receive-free-winter-supply-of-vitamin-d
  • Taking more than a 10 micrograms (400IU) dose of vitamin D is not necessary; however, if unable to obtain an appropriate product, supplements providing up to 25 micrograms (1000 IU) of vitamin D can be recommended. Further details of vitamin D products available over the counter and on prescription can be found here: https://www.npa.co.uk/information-and-guidance/vitamin-d-updated-guidance/
  • Health champions can help customers by explaining the importance of vitamin D intake, maintaining adequate levels, side effects from overdose and if in doubt to seek advice from a healthcare practitioner
  • Women and children can access vitamin D supplements, free of charge, if they qualify for the following schemes:
  • Healthy Start Scheme in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – further details found here: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/
  • Best Start Scheme in Scotland – further details found here: https://www.mygov.scot/best-start-grant-best-start-foods/

 

Please contact the Pharmacy Services team for further advice and support: