Studies by scientists at University College Cork report that one in eight Irish people have a Vitamin D deficiency. It doesn’t come as a shock that many of us have below adequate levels of ‘the sunshine vitamin’. We weren’t named Hibernia (‘land of winter’ in Classical Latin) for nothing!

1 in 8 Irish people have vitamin D deficiency. Bones can become frail and soft if they are lacking in Vitamin D. Severe cases of vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in children and a condition called osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to other health issues such as cancer, asthma, depression, Alzheimer’s, type-II diabetes, high blood pressure and such autoimmune diseases as multiple sclerosis, type-I diabetes and Crohn’s.

“The alternative supply of Vitamin D is dietary supply”

“While sunlight is a key provider it is not strong enough during winter months to allow skin to make vitamin D, this is referred to as the ‘vitamin D winter.” Kevin Cashman (UCC research coordinator) reports in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“In addition, even in summer public health advice suggests limiting unprotected sun exposure due to important concerns about skin damage and cancer. The alternative source of vitamin D is dietary supply, however the amount in the diet of many Europeans have been shown to be low.”

From October to early March, we should rely on getting our vitamin D from certain foods and vitamin supplements.

Foods containing Vitamin D

  • Fatty fish – such as salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines and eel.
  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Egg yolk
  • Fortified milk – Some soy and rice milks are fortified with about the same amount, but check the label since not all contain vitamin D.
  • Some breakfast cereals (Cornflakes are fortified with Vitamin D)
  • Fortified orange juice.

Read more about where to find Vitamin D at Good Food Ireland.

Vitamin D supplements? First find out if you have Vitamin D deficiency

More Irish people might need to take supplements for their vitamin D deficiency
Although everyone can benefit from more Vitamin D, stocking up on supplements for six months of the year can become quite costly. You’ll typically find Vitamin D supplements ranging anywhere from 3 euro to 12 euro in pharmacies.

It is a good idea to first get a vitamin test to see whether or not you have Vitamin D deficiency. Although the sun might not have been shining recently, some people would be surprised to find themselves having normal or above normal levels of the sunshine vitamin.

If you do decide to take supplements, the NHS says 10mcg a day should be enough for most people. They advise not to take more than 100mcg of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful (100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams). This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11-17 years.

Read about the Benefits of Vitamin D Supplements

Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley