Vitamin D Deficiency in Singapore

Despite our location on the equator and being exposed to sunlight all year round, it is surprising to say that Singapore does have a prevalent Vitamin D deficiency issue. According to a study in 2016 on 114 healthy Singaporeans (59 males and 55 females), about 42% of these participants were actually vitamin D deficient.1 This makes us wonder that despite being fully healthy and functional, we may in fact be vitamin D deficient.

During the pandemic, it is also found that vitamin D insufficiency is affecting about 90% of pregnant women in Singapore. This increases the risk of complications during birth as well as for infants during growth.2

There are two types of vitamin D, vitamin D2 which you usually get from foods and vitamin D3 which is usually made by our bodies from being exposed to sunlight.2 Both of which are abundant and highly accessible in a country like Singapore. So how is it that so many of our population are still affected by vitamin D deficiency? Let us take a look at some of the potential reasons.

Reasons why Singaporeans are affected by Vitamin D

1. Being sunny actually works against us

Although not widely adopted, Singaporeans have wide access to multiple different kinds of products that provide protection from sunlight. This ranges from hats, sunscreen, umbrellas, and other protective clothing. It was surveyed in 2013 that among 2328 Singaporeans, roughly 14.2% (330 persons) wore protective headgear, about 18.8% (438 persons) used umbrellas regularly in the heat, and 23.9% (556 persons) used sunscreens.3

2. People spending more time indoors.

Especially during the pandemic, many Singaporeans were forced to stay indoors. Without sufficient sunlight, our bodies are unable to produce enough vitamin D. Without a balanced diet, the risk of being vitamin D deficient is higher. A lot of us also work indoors and the moment we leave our offices, the sun has already set. Individuals working during night shifts are also at risk of being vitamin D deficient.

The elderly population in Singapore is also at risk as they prefer staying indoors. When heading out into the sun, many prefer sheltered walkways and umbrellas, limiting their body’s exposure to sunlight.4

3. Risk of skin cancer

Skin cancer is the 6th most common cancer in male Singaporeans and 7th for females.5 With our all-year-round hot weather, Singaporeans are encouraged to protect their skin with protective clothing or sunscreen. This limits the number of UV rays that penetrate our skin for our bodies to make vitamin D.

4. Insufficient vitamin D foods in the diet

According to a pharmacist at a health and beauty retailer Glovida, a person requires 170g of salmon, 25 egg yolks, or 2 litres of milk per day to ensure sufficient vitamin D in their diet.4 Despite these foods being readily available in Singapore, people may not be consuming the right amount needed.

How to ensure you have sufficient vitamin D

The easiest way to ensure that your body gets the right amount of vitamin D needed is to consume supplements. Getting sufficient sunlight and making changes to your diet to include more vitamin D foods would definitely help too. Some vitamin D-rich foods include oily fish like salmon and tuna, eggs, beef liver, and vitamin D-fortified milk or orange juice. Read our article to learn more about the various sources of vitamin D here.

Vitamin D Supplementation

However, before deciding on taking supplements, it is crucial to get advice from a professional doctor first. Although supplements are widely available over the counter, getting advice from a doctor can help ensure that your body gets the right dosage needed. There’s a multitude of factors that could potentially vary the amount of vitamin D your body needs. Some of these factors include existing health conditions, skin colour, lifestyle, age, gender, and diet.

Consult your doctor

For individuals looking for professional consultation and treatment on Vitamin D deficiency, do proceed to our partner clinics here or you can contact Sunshine Vitamin directly.


1. Bi, Xiyan, et al. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Singapore: Its Implications to Cardiovascular Risk Factors.” NCBI, 22 January 2016, Available at: Accessed 25 February 2023.
2. Tan, Annie. “Get more of this vitamin.” SingHealth, 7 November 2022, Available at: Accessed 25 February 2023.
3. Cheong, Kah Wai, et al. “Sun Exposure and Sun Safety Habits Among Adults in Singapore: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Annals Singapore, 12 December 2019, Available at: Accessed 25 February 2023.
4. Alimin, Jasmine. “Why Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise in Singapore.” The Edge Singapore, 3 August 2021, Available at: Accessed 25 February 2023.
5. Icon Group. “Skin Cancer — Icon Cancer Centre Singapore.” Icon Cancer Centre, Available at: Accessed 25 February 2023.