Should you take vitamin D this winter?
Vitamin D is being discussed in many of the online news platforms as being an important part of the battle against Covid-19 this winter.
Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in regulating mood, promoting a healthy weight and supporting the immune system.
Vitamin D is formed in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin. Most people should be able to get their vitamin D from sunlight during the spring and summer. With weather getting cooler and with more of us spending time indoors because of the pandemic, we should certainly consider taking a vitamin D supplement. It is important to note that taking vitamin D alone cannot prevent coronavirus (or any infection), but can be considered helpful alongside hygiene, face masks and social distancing.
Vitamin D is also found in some foods, including oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel), dairy, liver and eggs. If you do not consume these foods and do not spend much time outdoors in the summer, then you might be at risk of low vitamin D levels. Even if you are spending lots of time outdoors in the sunshine, unless your skin is exposed to the sun, you might not get all the benefit. There is quite a fine line between exposing enough skin at the sunniest time of the day and getting too much sun, which is also not healthy!!!
Vitamin D levels can be tested at your GP practice, however if your surgery is not currently offering this test, then you can buy pinprick vitamin D tests to do at home (online from as little as £9). It is interesting to note that people with dark skin might have a greater need for vitamin D and should consider supplementing all year-round.
Vitamin D supplements are safe to take but taking very high doses can be dangerous as too much vitamin D is toxic. 10 micrograms a day is safe and is a good maintenance dose to take year-round, even during the summer months. However, if you have tested low for vitamin D, then speak to a doctor, pharmacist or nutritional therapist to see which dose you should be taking.