The best source of vitamin D

New findings of best way to get your vitamin D

Surprise results suggest guidelines may have to be re-written when it comes to what the best supplements are to top up your vitamin D levels.

The ground-breaking research from the University of Surrey shows that vitamin D3 was found to be twice as effective in raising levels of the vitamin in the body than D2.

Current recommendations say both types of the D vitamin have equal health benefits.

Consultant Rheumatologists Professor David Reid, of Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic is passionate about bone health and knows how important it is to get the balance of supplements right. He says, "Once someone knows they are at risk of osteoporosis, getting the right treatment can produce a reduction in risk of up to 70%, by using lifestyle changes as well as supplements and prescribed medication.”

Why do we need vitamin D?

One in five of us in the UK is deficient in vitamin D, which keeps our bones, heart and immune system healthy.

As we don’t get enough sunshine in this country to make vitamin D through our skin, the official advice has been to top up with foods rich in, or fortified with the nutrient.

How much vitamin D do we need?

We tend to get less vitamin D than we need through our diet, so we rely on making the rest up through exposure to sunshine on our skin, which can be difficult in the UK.

Advice from Public Health England last year recommended that adults and children over the age of one should take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter.

Latest research on best vitamin D

In the latest research, scientists put the effectiveness of vitamin D2 and D3 to the test by looking at the benefits of putting low doses in fortified food.

They examined the vitamin D levels of 335 South Asian and white European women over two consecutive winters.  

What they found, was that vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 via juice or a biscuit increased by around 75 per cent, while those given D2 saw an increase of 34 per cent, over a three-month period.  

The best way to get vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is made by you skin through sunshine and through eating animal products.

  • Experts recommend exposing large areas of your body, like your arms and legs, for at least 20 minutes a day.
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Vitamin D3 supplements and fortified foods.

What are the health benefits of vitamin D?

The researchers now say it should as daily consumption of vitamin D3 will help protect your health:

  • Reduce risk of bone thinning conditions like osteoporosis and rickets, where bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen
  • Cut your risk of heart disease. As vitamin D also appears to play a role in insulin resistance, high blood pressure and immune function
  • Low levels of the vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis
  • On-going research shows vitamin D plays a part in protecting against cancer and Parkinson’s

How to check your bone health

If you are worried about the condition of your bones, or have already suffered a fracture, you can give them a full health check by having a scan with Professor Reid, at London day clinic Twenty-Five Harley Street.

He is an expert operator of the DEXA machine, short for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.  DEXA scans are safe, accurate, painless and non-invasive. The scanner uses a far lower radiation level than CT scan or MRIs.

  • The DEXA scan measurement compares and calculates your bone density to other people who are the same age and sex.
  • You receive a report on your bone health that spans the next ten years by one of the UK's most respected osteoporosis doctors.

Hormone treatment for bones

One of the most effective ways of preventing and even treating low bone density is by taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

There is good evidence that oestrogen is protective of the bones as well as the intervertebral discs, which are crucial for cushioning the vertebral bones and preventing crush fractures.

HRT can be taken in many different forms such as gels, patches and tablets. The exact type is tailored to each woman’s needs to provide a completely integrated treatment.

To ensure you get precisely the right treatment, you can make an appointment with a consultant gynaecologist.

Book an appointment with Prof Reid at Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic, 25 Harley Street, Marylebone London W1G 9QW. Telephone 020 3883 9525, or email  Visit

A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for computed tomography, a scan that generates a series of cross-sectional x-ray images Full medical glossary
A means of measuring bone density. Full medical glossary
An organ with the ability to make and secrete certain fluids. Full medical glossary
A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary
Abbreviation for hormone replacement therapy, the administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Full medical glossary
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Essential substances that cannot be produced by the body and so must be acquired from the diet. Full medical glossary
A type of electromagnetic radiation used to produce images of the body. Full medical glossary