You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, though you can from supplements. If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people, according to the NHS. You should not not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are both needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Therefore, it is important to make sure you have enough. Indeed, a lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, so the winter may be a time when vitamin D deficiency is more common.
The Cleveland Clinic says that ataxia can occur, which is a neurological condition that may cause slurring of words and stumbling.
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It adds that nausea, increased thirst, urination and poor appetite are also all signs.
You may also notice constipation, weakness, and confusion.
The Cleveland Clinic notes: “Do not take higher than recommended doses of vitamin D without first discussing it with your doctor.
“However, your doctor might recommend higher doses of vitamin D if he or she is checking your blood levels and adjusting your dose accordingly.”
The NHS says there are also symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency.
The health body says that these can include muscle aches and weakness, a waddling gait, chronic widespread pain, or bone pain in the lower back, pelvis and foot.
Dietary vitamin D is available in foods such as oily fish, cod liver oil, red meat, fortified cereals, fortified margarine/spreads and egg yolks.
In the UK, milk is not fortified with vitamin D, so dairy products contain only small amounts of vitamin D.
In summer months, the majority of the population will get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet.
Between October and early March the NHS says we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so you need to get vitamin D from your diet.
Around 20 percent of adults may have low vitamin D status, and there are several main risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
If you or someone you care for is in a higher risk group they may need to take vitamin D supplements.
For example, if you are spending a lot of time indoors, the NHS suggests you should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy.
You can take vitamin D supplements as tablets, liquid or a spray, and they can be bought in a pharmacy.
“There is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat COVID-19,” the NHS says.
In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.