As part of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic guidance, the Scottish government has recommended that people start getting a daily dose of vitamin D. The government statement published last week says: “Since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D. This advice is especially important for people who are indoors all of the time.”
Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. For those who are able to go outside, or crack open a window to sunbathe, up to 15 minutes of sun exposure per day is recommended, but sun exposure only counts when you don’t use sunscreen.
An Irish study found that vitamin D helps prevent respiratory illness and enhances the immune system. Conducted by Trinity College Dublin, the findings suggest that vitamin D can help prevent the disease from reaching a critical stage. Professor Rose Anne Kenny, concluded, “We have evidence to support a role for vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels. In one study, vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements… Though we do not know specifically of the role of vitamin D in COVID-19 infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of vitamin D.”
Another study found that among 800 military men in Finland, those with lower vitamin D levels took significantly more days from active duty to recover from upper respiratory infections than recruits with higher vitamin D levels (above 40nmol). In Japan, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared vitamin D3 supplements (1200 IU/day) with placebo in school-aged children. Researchers found that the children receiving the sunshine vitamin had a 42% reduction in getting influenza A compared to those not receiving it. The study also found that the group not getting the vitamin D had six times more asthma attacks.
Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin that ensures your immune system is functioning well. Those living in the northern hemisphere, such as in Scotland, can follow the government’s guidelines of taking 10 micrograms (or 400IU) of vitamin D every day. In Dr. Yik’s practice, she finds that many adults and children in Hong Kong are deficient in vitamin D, regardless of how much sunshine they get. She advises getting your vitamin D level checked before taking a daily supplement, so you can supplement at the correct dosage. Too much vitamin D puts you at a higher risk for kidney stones.
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SOURCES: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/take-vitamin-d-says-government-18072572, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/, https://www.gov.scot/publications/vitamin-d-advice-for-all-age-groups/