Vitamin D: Sarah Jarvis discusses use in combatting COVID-19
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Vitamin D is used by the body to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are both linked to the health of the muscles and bones. But it can be difficult to make sure you get enough vitamin D in your diet.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s essential for the overall well-being of the body.
The vitamin promotes calcium absorption, while also being used for bone growth.
But without enough of the ‘sunshine vitamin’, the bones can become very softer or misshapen, and it increases the risk of some medical conditions, including rickets and osteomalacia.
It’s, therefore, really important that you make sure you get enough vitamin D in your diet.
There are three key ways to increase your uptake of vitamin D; sunlight, supplements, and food.
UV radiation from sunlight encourages the production of vitamin D3 in the body.
Most people in the world get at least some of their daily vitamin D from sunlight.
But, the amount of vitamin D that’s produced is linked to the time of the year, weather, and the amount of melanin in the skin.
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Between October and March, most people in the UK struggle to generate enough vitamin D from sunlight, however.
The Earth’s axis tilts in such a way that limits the amount of necessary UV radiation to encourage vitamin D production, while the days are also much shorter.
It’s therefore recommended that everyone takes a daily 10mcg supplement to keep their bones and muscles healthy in the winter.
Vitamin D3 supplements are the best type to look out for, because that’s the type of vitamin D that’s produced in the body naturally.
“Some people will not get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure,” said the NHS.
“The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that you take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if you: are not often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound, are in an institution like a care home, [or] usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors.
“Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body [hypercalcaemia].
“This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.”
You may also choose to add more vitamin D to your diet by eating certain foods.
It’s found in a small number of foods; mainly oily fish, including sardines, mackerel and salmon.
But you could find vitamin D in egg yolks, red meat, liver, and some fortified foods.
Speak to a doctor if you’re worried that you may have a vitamin D deficiency.
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