Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones. It aids in the absorption of calcium, a mineral that gives our bones their strength and structure. Without adequate vitamin D, our bones can become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures and other bone-related health problems.

What is the role of vitamin D in bone health?

Vitamin D’s primary function for healthy bones is to facilitate calcium absorption from the intestines into the bloodstream. Calcium is a vital component of bones, providing them with rigidity and strength. When vitamin D levels are low, the body’s ability to absorb calcium decreases, leading to a condition known as hypocalcemia. Hypocalcemia can weaken bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and deformities.

What happens to our bones without enough vitamin D?

A deficiency in vitamin D can have severe consequences for bone health, particularly in children and older adults. In children, vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition characterised by soft, weak and deformed bones. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can contribute to osteomalacia, a condition that causes bone pain, softening and an increased risk of fractures.

The role of vitamin D in preventing osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a chronic condition characterised by low bone density and a weakened bone structure. It is a major cause of fractures, particularly in older adults. Vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing osteoporosis by enhancing calcium absorption and maintaining bone mineral density. Osteoporosis is, in part, a long-term effect of calcium and/or vitamin D insufficiency.

Can vitamin D reverse osteoporosis?

While vitamin D cannot reverse osteoporosis, it can help slow down the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of fractures. Adequate vitamin D intake, along with other lifestyle modifications such as a calcium-rich diet and regular exercise, can help to maintain bone health and prevent further deterioration.

How much vitamin D do we need?

The amount of vitamin D the average person needs varies depending on age and other factors. The NHS recommends the following daily vitamin D intakes:

  • Infants up to 12 months: 10 mcg (400 IU)
  • Children 1-13 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Teenagers 14 -18 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults 19-50 years: 15 mcg (600 IU)
  • Adults 51-70 years: 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Adults 71 and older: 20 mcg (800 IU)

Read more: Why you should be taking vitamin D3 every day

How living in the UK affects vitamin D levels 

Due to its geographical location and limited sunlight exposure, the UK has a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among its population. The government estimates that around 1 in 6 adults have low vitamin D levels, particularly during the winter months. Certain groups, such as the elderly and those with darker skin, are at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Checking your vitamin D levels

If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels,you can book an appointment with your GP and they can order a blood test. 

Alternatively, instead of waiting for a doctor’s appointment, you can proactively monitor your vitamin D levels with our convenient home test kit, the DocHQ Essential Vitamins Check. This easy-to-use kit allows you to check your vitamin D levels from the comfort of your own home. Simply take a finger prick blood sample and send it to our lab for analysis. You’ll receive your results within a few days and personalised recommendations for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels.