Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults, NHS guidance adds.
Our skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun.
“The precursor to vitamin D is found in skin cells (kertatinocytes) and it is through sunlight that a complex array of reactions convert it into its ‘active’ form so it can be used by the body,” NHS doctor Asif Munaf said.
“It is essential for immunity as we know that it has anti-inflammatory effects.”
Why are we being asked to consider taking more vitamin D?
We usually get most of the vitamin D we need from being outside. But as we move into our third month of lockdown, many of us are not spending as much time outdoors as we need to.
A woman walks on a bridge during the reopening of the touristic site Pulo Cinta Eco Resort, Indonesia. File/Reuters
As well as protecting our bones and teeth, vitamin D also helps to prevent us from getting sick – something which is vital during a pandemic.
PHE says we should consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin a day to keep us healthy.
Scotland and Wales have issued the same guidance.
This is because you may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight if you’re indoors most of the day, PHE official guidance states.
People with dark skin may also not be getting enough even if they spend time outdoors.
Sara Stanner of the British Nutrition Foundation said: “Unfortunately, as the effects of coronavirus continue, many of us are limited in the time we can spend outdoors. Correctly abiding by government rules and staying at home is immensely important and, while many of us have limited access to sunlight, this means we need to take a little extra care to keep our vitamin D levels healthy.”
Can vitamin D stop you getting coronavirus?
In recent weeks there have been some reports suggesting that by taking vitamin D you can reduce your risk of coronavirus.
This is not true, and there is no clinical evidence to suggest that by taking vitamin D you will not catch the infection.
How much vitamin D should I take?
Although vitamin D supplements are very safe and regulated, taking too much can be dangerous in the long run.
The government says you should not be taking a supplement of more than 10 micrograms each day unless advised to do so by your doctor.
“Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day,” NHS guidance states.
If it’s sunny outside, should I sunbathe to get extra vitamin D?
If you decide to sunbathe then you need to wear sun cream as normal.
Although you can’t overdose on vitamin D, over-exposure to the sun’s rays can lead to burns and other health problems.