Public Health England is recommending people consider taking daily vitamin D supplements throughout the spring and summer as the coronavirus lockdown continues.
Normally, many of us get enough of it by spending time outdoors. Our skin makes it when exposed to the sun.
The sunshine vitamin, along with others, can help our body stay fit to ward off illness and infections – important during a pandemic.
So who might need supplements?
What is the advice?
People in the UK are already advised to consider taking a supplement of 10 micrograms a day during the winter months (from October to March), and all year round if we aren't spending much time outdoors.
Public Health England is concerned that people could be missing out on the vitamin during the coronavirus pandemic when we are being advised to stay at home more.
It recommends vitamin D throughout the year if:
- you are not often outdoors – if you are housebound because you are shielding, for example
- you live in a care home
- you usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
People with dark skin may also not be getting enough even if they spend time outdoors because the skin pigment melanin doesn't absorb as many rays from the sun that let the body make vitamin D.
Scottish and Welsh governments have issued the same advice.
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."
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. A lack of it can lead to a bone deformity illness called rickets in children and a similar bone weakness condition called osteomalacia in adults.
Some studies suggest avoiding deficiency helps our resilience to common colds and flu, although there is no evidence that vitamin D boosts the immune system.
Should I take lots of it?
No. Although vitamin D supplements are very safe, taking more than the recommended amount every day can be dangerous in the long run.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements:
- Children aged 1-10 should not have more than 50 micrograms a day
- Infants (under 12 months) should not have more than 25 micrograms a day
- Adults should not have more than 100 micrograms a day and if they are going to take supplements the recommended amount is 10 micrograms a day
Higher doses may sometimes be recommended by a doctor for patients with proven vitamin D deficiency.
Some people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney problems, cannot safely take vitamin D.
Can it stop coronavirus?
No. There is no evidence that it reduces the risk of catching or getting ill with coronavirus.
But experts do think that it may have benefits during the pandemic.
Vitamin D supplements will improve the health of people who are deficient.
Some researchers have suggested that vitamin D deficiency might be linked with poorer outcomes if someone catches coronavirus. But other underlying risk factors, such as heart disease, are common in these patients too, making it hard to draw conclusions.
Prof Jon Rhodes, emeritus professor of medicine in the UK, says vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to dampen down the body's immune response to viruses. This could be relevant in very ill coronavirus patients where severe lung damage can result from an inflammatory "cytokine storm" in response to the virus, although much more research is needed to explore this, he says.
Where can I buy it?
Vitamin D supplements are widely available from supermarkets and chemists. They may be just vitamin D or part of a multivitamin tablet.
Do not buy more than yoRead More – Source