Vitamin D is essential for healthy bodies and is actually one of the easiest vitamins to access.
It is obtained by the human body naturally through sunlight but staying indoors can lead to a deficiency and the winter months are also an issue.
The majority of the population will get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet.
But the lover levels of sunlight between October and early March mean we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so need to get vitamin D from our diet, according to the NHS.
It is estimated that around 20 percent of adults may have low vitamin D status, and there are several main risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
As far as diet is concerned vitamin D is available in foods such as oily fish, cod liver oil, red meat, fortified cereals, fortified spreads and egg yolks.
In some countries milk is not fortified with vitamin D but this is not the case in the UK.
As such so dairy products contain only small amounts of vitamin D.
A lack of sunlight exposure, darker skin, being housebound, malabsorption, and being pregnant or breastfeeding are risk factors according to the NHS.
Symptoms can include muscle aches and weakness, waddling gait, chronic widespread pain or bone pain in lower back, pelvis and foot.
The Nuneaton-based health food retailer Holland & Barrett says 90 percent of the vitamin D in our bodies needs to come from getting out in the sunlight and only 10 percent is from our diet, the Express reports.
Its website says: “Even if you eat fortified foods, you could be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Symptoms of low vitamin D vary from person to person.”
One sign is head sweats, as a common “early sign” of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty scalp.
The website also lists a number of other signs to be mindful of.
Falling short of the required amount could weaken immune defences, but if low levels are left untreated, discomfort may also arise.
Over supplementation should be avoided
Over-supplementation of vitamin D, however, can also be harmful and should be avoided.
The NHS says taking too many vitamin D supplements over a prolonged period can cause too much calcium to build up in the body which can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
However people cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D has been linked positively to coronavirus but the NHS says reports about it reducing the risk of coronavirus are not backed by enough evidence to know whether this is the case.
“There is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat Covid-19,” it says.
In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg a day of vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.
This advice was issued largely because of the restrictions imposed by quarantine and lockdown.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should ask their midwife or health visitor for information around vitamin D intake.
If you or someone you care for is in a higher risk group they may need to take vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements are widely in pharmacies, other high street stores and supermarkets and can be taken in tablet, liquid or spray form.
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