Vitamin D is required for a well functioning immune system. We usually get Vitamin D through our skin when exposed to the sun’s rays which triggers a hormone to be made by the body.
According to the NHS, people in the UK don’t usually get enough Vitamin D, with 1 in 5 people having low levels between October and March each year. With current lockdown measures, this level of deficiency could be set to extend as people have to stay inside and the government has officially stated that sunbathing is against their advice during the lockdown.
Having the correct levels of Vitamin D helps your immune system fight infection and run effectively. Several studies have found that Vitamin D supplements could aid resistance to respiratory infections such as those found with COVID-19 or help limit their severity. A research study carried out in the US recommended people at risk of influenza or COVID-19 taking a high dose of Vitamin D for a few weeks (10,000IU/day) to rapidly increase vitamin D (25-OH) levels.
Are you at risk of having low Vitamin D levels?
People at higher risk of deficiency include the elderly or obese people, people who take certain medications for long periods of time and people with darker skin.
There has been some speculation from doctors including Dr Colin Bannon that Vitamin D deficiency may be partially responsible for higher death rates amongst those with dark skin, as darker skin impedes the conversion of sunlight into Vitamin D in the body.
Public Health England guidelines also recommend that people in the following groups are at risk of deficiency:
People in care homes
People who always cover their skin when outside
People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun.
How can you manage your Vitamin D level to help fight infection?
You can test your Vitamin D level with a simple blood test to find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D (25-OH) found in the blood. This will help you assess whether you are getting enough in your usual routine and correct this if necessary.
You can get more Vitamin D by spending enough time in the sun so it is important to make the most of your 1-hour exercise outside a day to get some sun exposure. However, if you are in an at-risk category and avoiding going outside all together you can take a daily supplement or increase your intake through food such as oily fish such as salmon and red meat.
If you would like to test your Vitamin D levels, VisitHealth can arrange for a nurse to visit your home to collect a blood sample to be tested for a deficiency. Find out more here: https://visithealth.london/product/vitamin-d-25-oh