Aug 09, 2022

What is Vitamin D and what does it do?

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for our health. Sometimes  referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is the  only vitamin our skin can synthesise, which it does using direct sunlight1. However, exposure to sunlight isn’t the only way to get the vitamin D you need. You can also find it in certain foods, which is why it’s important to ensure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet.

There are two different forms of Vitamin D - vitamin D2 and D3. Whilst our only source of vitamin D2 is our diet, vitamin D3 is produced from UV rays and can also be found in animal-sourced foods such as egg yolks, oily fish and red meat1. In addition, vitamin D is contained in fortified dairy products such as some milk and Actimel yogurt shots.

What is vitamin D good for?

Vitamin D is essential for our bodies, and has a pretty impressive list of potential benefits!

It contributes to the normal absorption of calcium and phosphorus and the maintenance of calcium in our blood. In turn, this helps the normal maintenance and function of our teeth, bones and muscles2.

Getting enough vitamin D can help prevent rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, a condition that causes the bones to weaken2. And because it helps the body absorb calcium, vitamin D can help prevent older adults from getting osteoporosis3.

Vitamin D can also support the normal function of the immune system, as it helps to modulate both its innate and adaptive parts4.

Where can you find vitamin D?

Our main source of vitamin D comes from our exposure to sunlight. Here in the UK, that’s only possible during the summer months of April - September, during the peak sunlight hours of around 11am and 3pm1.

When we’re not getting our vitamin D from the sunlight (for example, during the winter months), we can get it from some of the food we eat. However, only a few foods contain vitamin D, so it’s important to be aware of what they are. Good dietary sources of vitamin D include5:

  • Egg yolks
  • Oily fish like herring, salmon, tuna and mackerel
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Calf's liver

Many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including some types of cow’s or plant-based milk, breakfast cereals, fat spreads and even mushrooms1. Actimel yogurt shots can also be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet as they contain vitamins D and B6, which help support the immune system's normal function.

What is the recommended daily dose of vitamin D?

On average, adults and children over one need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. Babies under 12 months require a daily vitamin D intake of between 8.5 and 10 micrograms.

During the winter months, or if you’re not getting enough exposure to the sun, it can be difficult to get the vitamin D you need to stay healthy. Approximately one in six adults in the UK has low vitamin D levels6. It’s also estimated that 7.5% of children aged between 1.5 and 3 years, 14% of children aged between 4 and 10 years and 22% of children aged between 11 and 14 years have low levels of vitamin D7.

However, ensuring that you’re eating enough foods that contain vitamin D can help make a difference. Actimel yoghurt shots contain 33% of your daily Reference Intake of vitamin D and can be incorporated easily (and tastily!) into your daily diet and routine.

Vitamin D supplements are another source of vitamin D and current government advice is that adults and children over 4 years should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms during autumn and winter months2.

If you’re concerned about your vitamin D intake, it’s always advisable to speak to your GP, who can advise on the best way to get the vitamin D you need.


*Actimel Core, Plus, Dairy Free & 00 range contain Vitamins D and B6 to help support the normal function of the immune system. Actimel kids contains vitamin D to support the normal function of the immune system in children. **Actimel 0% Fat 0% Added Sugars : No added sugars, contains naturally occurring sugars. ***Except for Actimel Kids range. ****Vitamin B6 contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. △RI: Reference intake of an average adult (8400 KJ/2000 Kcal) (as per Food Information Regulations). Enjoy as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.