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Most people can get all the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. But The Department of Health recommends certain supplements for some groups of people who are at risk of deficiency. They recommend that people aged 65 years and over and people not exposed to much sun should also take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (0.01mg) of vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health (it is needed by the body to absorb calcium) and muscle function. Because vitamin D is needed for increased bone and muscle strength, low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of falls and fracture. Most of the vitamin D that your body needs is made in the skin from sunlight but our skin becomes less efficient in producing vitamin D from the sun as we age and our exposure to sunlight often declines, particularly for those who are less mobile. People with darker skin are at higher risk of deficiencies than those with whiter skin.
Some vitamin D can also be obtained from dietary sources such as oily fish and eggs and fortified breakfast cereals, fortified fat spreads and fortified dairy products.