To stay healthy, we all need to increase our vitamin D levels to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms, Public Health England has advised.
Vitamin D is essential for controlling the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A deficiency can result in rickets, a condition which causes bone deformities, as well as osteomalacia, which can make bones painful and tender.
New advice recommends that, particularly in winter when sunlight is scarce, we should take vitamin D supplements or eat foods rich in the vitamin to improve health.
The new advice is based on the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) following a review of the evidence on vitamin D and health.
For most people, the main source of vitamin D is sunlight. However SACN could not say exactly how much vitamin D is made, so it recommended a daily dietary intake of 10 micrograms.
According to PHE, in spring and summer the majority of the population get enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy, balanced diet.
During autumn and winter, however, everyone will need to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D.
They said that since it is difficult for people to meet the 10 microgram recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with vitamin D, people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during this time.
PHE advised people who have little or no exposure to the sun, as well as ethnic minority groups with dark skin (from African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds) to consider taking a supplement all year round.
Children aged one to four years should also have a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement, they said.
Vitamin D supplements are available free-of-charge for low-income families on the Healthy Start scheme.
Here, we’ve listed seven foods you can add to your shopping list for a natural vitamin D boost:
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
Cereals with added vitamin D