• A third of Australians aren't getting enough vitamin D daily. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
British health officials have advised ‘everyone’ to take vitamin D supplements to ensure optimum bone health. But what does this mean for Australians?
By
Jody Phan

22 Jul 2016 - 2:05 PM  UPDATED 4 Sep 2018 - 10:43 AM

Vitamin D is essential to the body’s absorption of calcium, which is crucial to maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Low levels of vitamin D can cause rickets in children and increase the risk of falls and bone fractures in older people.

Public England Health announced this week that all Brits should take a 10 micrograms of a vitamin D supplement during the darker months.

Meanwhile, people who spend all their time indoors and those who cover up for religious reasons are advised to use supplements all year round.

The new recommendation comes after a five-year review by the Science Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), which found that one in five people in the UK have a vitamin D deficiency.

In Australia, most adults obtain no more than 10% of their vitamin D requirement from diet alone.

But the advice dished out during the nation’s hottest period has seemed to hit the nerves of some Brits, with people taking to Twitter to express their angst.

“Can't believe the human race has survived in the UK without #vitaminD supplements. Sometimes medical science needs to think before speaking,” Mark Fisher tweeted.

Another person wrote, “Why is the value of vitamin D supplements being brought up in the summer months?? #BadTiming

In Australia, most adults obtain no more than 10% of their vitamin D requirement from diet alone, while an estimated 31% of Australians suffer from deficiency.

In summer, as little as five to 10 minutes in the sun each day is enough for those with fair to moderate skin to meet vitamin D requirements.

Australians under 70 are advised to have at least 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day, while those aged over 70 require at least 20 micrograms per day.

Why is Australia’s recommended dose a third higher than that of the UK’s? It’s largely due to the lower rate of vitamin D fortification in Australian foods compared to our friends across the pond.

Exposure to the sun’s UVB rays is the best natural way of getting vitamin D. In autumn and winter, when the UV index is around 3 or below, spending up to 30 minutes outdoors each day with some exposed skin is enough to get the vitamin D you need.

Sunscreen is essential for the warmer months, when the UV index is above 3 and can reach extremes of 10 or more. In summer, as little as five to 10 minutes in the sun each day is enough for those with fair to moderate skin to meet vitamin D requirements.

You can check the daily UV index via the Bureau of Meteorology’s website or using the Cancer Council’s SunSmart app.

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