People urged to take sunshine vitamin supplement during lockdown

People have been urged to take vitamin D supplements as they spend an increasing amount of time indoors during lockdown.

From around late March to the end of September, most people get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, which is why it is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin.

During the autumn and winter, people are advised to take a vitamin D supplement because they do not get enough sunlight.

But now officials have issued an update on the NHS website, which states: "Consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy.

"This is because you may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight if you're indoors most of the day.

"There have been some news reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, there is no evidence that this is the case.

"You can buy vitamin D supplements at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Do not buy more than you need."

Vitamin D helps maintain calcium and phosphate levels in the body, which helps with the health of bones, teeth and muscles.

The human body produces vitamin D during exposure to sunlight, although other sources include oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.

The vitamin is also added to some breakfast cereals and spreads, and can be taken as a supplement.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "With the nation staying in to save lives and protect the NHS, many people are spending more time indoors and may not get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

"To protect their bone and muscle health, they should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D – there is no sufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D for reducing the risk of Covid-19."

Graham Keen, executive director of the Health Food Manufacturers' Association, said: "Whilst vitamin D supplementation has long been recommended for key population groups, this broadened advice is welcome to help everyone maintain healthy joints and muscles."