So you know that vitamin D is essential for health – and that we’re all advised to take a supplement during the autumn and winter. But how much do you need, and exactly what kind of supplement should you use? After all, there have never been so many ways to get your vits. From traditional capsules and tablets to sprays, gummies and effervescent drinks, the choices can seem overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to hitting your vitamin D target…
Why should I take it?
You’ve probably read lots about vitamin D recently. The information may be somewhat overwhelming so here’s a quick recap of the top reasons to supplement. Vitamin D – which is actually a pro-hormone rather than a vitamin in the traditional sense - is needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles, and is also important for mood, blood sugar regulation and immune system health. Vitamin D is made in your skin in response to sunlight. In theory, we would all make plenty during the summer months, when the sun is stronger, and those stores would last us through the darker months, when the sun is too weak for us to manufacture vitamin D. But in reality, most of us probably aren’t making enough in the summer anyway. The majority of us have indoor lifestyles, and there are lots of other reasons you may not be getting enough sunshine in the summer – if you tend to cover up outside, if you’re elderly and don’t leave your home very often, or if we have a typically British cool, damp summer, for example. Put those factors together with our long dark winters and it’s not surprising many of us are deficient in vitamin D for a large proportion of the year. Since we know so much about why vitamin D is important for our wellbeing, that’s a worry.
How much should I take?
This is where it gets a little complicated. UK Government guidelines recommend you take 10mcg – or 400iu – every day between October and March, and all year round if you don’t go outside much, have dark skin or tend to wear clothes that cover the majority of your skin. But recommended doses are considerably higher in other countries, and some experts think the UK’s recommended amount is too low. For example, in the EU the recommended daily intake is 600iu (and that covers countries that get a lot more summer sun than the UK does). It is hard to overdose on vitamin D and you can safely take 10 times the recommended UK amount – so up to 100mcg or 4000iu (that’s what I take myself from October to March). But it’s important to be aware that taking larger amounts than this over a long period of time can certainly be harmful.
How should I take it?
Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found both sprays and capsules are equally effective for raising blood levels of vitamin D. So that’s the beneficial box ticked – what else do you need to consider? Well, it’s mainly about what works for you. We know from health psychology research that it’s usually helpful to develop habits and link new behaviours to things you already do. For some, that means popping a capsule with breakfast. For others, a spray is handy. Brushing your teeth could be an excellent habit to link your spray to. You brush your teeth every morning so it may make sense to link taking vitamin D to that – and a spray is ideal. You could keep your vitamin D spray next to your toothbrush – that way, you’re really unlikely to forget! Other ideas? Keep it on your desk, in your bag or by the kettle as a prompt when you make a cup of tea. Whatever way you choose, a spray is definitely very convenient. The Manuka Doctor vitamin D spray also has added goodness of Manuka honey and propolis, packed with antioxidant polyphenols.
While those who prefer a capsule should consider Manuka Doctor’s High Strength Vitamin D 30-pack for a month’s supply.
 Williams, C.E., Williams, E.A. & Corfe, B.M. Rate of change of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D following sublingual and capsular vitamin D preparations. Eur J Clin Nutr 73, 1630–1635 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-019-0503-0