We all know the importance of protecting our skin from harmful UV rays, but it is equally vital to get enough vitamin D to stay healthy - and most of our intake comes from the sun.

According to Andrew Johnson, a herbalist and nutritional therapist, one of the reasons why so many people succumb to colds at this time of the year is because they have a vitamin D deficiency.

"Vitamin D builds up in the summer when you get sun exposure, but by this time of year it’s run out for a lot of people," he pointed out.

"One thing people could do is get their vitamin D levels checked - probably a very high percentage of people will find that they’re very low in vitamin D. Then they’ll know what level of supplement to take."

While there are nutritional supplements people who have a vitamin D deficiency can take, the next best thing is to book a holiday to a hot, sunny destination and soak up the rays - having slathered on the sun protection, of course.

"It can also relate to mood. If people get sad, it may not be just because they’re low in serotonin, but also partly related to vitamin D deficiency," Mr Johnson added.

People who need to increase their vitamin D intake should stock up on certain foods, too - oily fish, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and fortified fat spreads all contain the essential compound.

The most recent government advice that is while nobody needs vitamin D in their diet every day, certain groups of people may benefit from taking a daily supplement.

This include children aged six months to five years, pregnant and breastfeeding women, those aged 65 and older and individuals who cover up their skin or spend much of their time indoors.

Posted by Matilda Jones