Supplements & Nutrition
How Vitamin D Deficiency Can Impact Your Health

After missing two summers worth of sunshine and vitamin d due to lockdowns and restrictions, your tan might not be the only one suffering.

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Published on
March 22, 2022
Updated on
March 17, 2022

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it is produced in your body when your skin is exposed to the sun, something which is mostly lacking in Britain. With most of us being told to stay at home during the COVID crisis, we’ve missed out on a lot more sunshine than usual. Did you know the consequences of this could be much worse than not working on your tan?  

How Vitamin D boosts your immune system and aids Covid recovery?

Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body’s immune response to respiratory viruses [1]. Therefore, it represents an ideal COVID-19 defence. While it should not necessarily be used to treat Covid symptoms [2], it has been shown that those suffering from Vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to be seriously affected by COVID, therefore supplementing with Vitamin D3 is advisable for anyone who wants to give their immune system a boost and fight off respiratory infections.

Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium and keeping your bones healthy. Not getting enough Vitamin D can make you vulnerable to various conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, immune system disorders such as multiple sclerosis as well as colon, prostate and breast cancer [3]. Those with preexisting conditions are likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19, interestingly a recent study has shown that those with low Vitamin D  are 2.3  times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 [4].

There are Vitamin D receptors in areas of the brain responsible for mood and behaviour [5]. Not getting enough can lead to anxiety and depression as well as impair cognitive brain function [6]. When you combine this fact with the many stresses the pandemic has placed on society and the barriers it has put in place for those with existing mental health disorders [7], is it any wonder our mental health deteriorated during lockdown?  In the US alone, one in four adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic along with significant increases in sleeping and eating disorders [8].

Benefits of Vitamin D supplements and other sources?

Through late March/early April to September your Vitamin D intake can be absorbed through sunlight on your skin [9] along with a balanced diet. Ensure you have short periods in the sun with your forearms, hands and lower legs uncovered without sunscreen [10]. You can make all the Vitamin D you need in half the time it takes your skin to burn [11]. If, however, you prefer to avoid direct exposure to the sun for whatever reason, taking Vitamin D3 supplements will help.

During the autumn and winter period taking Vitamin D supplements is highly recommended as the sun’s rays are not suitable for making Vitamin D during this period [12]. The combination of Vitamins D3 and K2 is particularly effective [13]. On their own K2 regulates blood clotting, while D3 supports the immune system, prevents acute respiratory tract infections, and improves muscle function. [14] Together they ensure calcium is absorbed into the bone mass while preventing arterial calcification and promoting healthy blood flow, protecting your heart as well as strengthening your bones [15]. Absorption of Vitamin D3 is helped when taken with a fatty meal such as dinner. Zinc also aids in managing your D3 intake so ensure to include this mineral in your diet [16].

Fatty fish such as salmon, swordfish, tuna and sardines as well as fish liver oils are rich in Vitamin D. Smaller amounts can be found in egg yolk, cheese and beef liver [17]. Certain foods can be fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, dairy, orange juice and cereals [18]. It is important to note that diet will only ever form a small part of your Vitamin D intake and should in no way substitute for sunlight exposure and Vitamin D3 supplements.

How much Vitamin D do I need?

Getting the right balance of Vitamin D is essential. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults over 19 is 600 IU a day and for adults over the age of 70 is 800 IU a day [19]. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adults and children over the age of nine is 4,000 IU a day. [20] Too much Vitamin D can have an adverse effect [21] [22], therefore it is usually advisable to stick to a supplementation of 1,000 IU.

Signs of Vitamin D deficiency

Several warning signs of Vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Frequent sickness or infection (cold or flu especially)
  • Feeling tired
  • Pain in bones or lower back
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Wounds healing slowly flowing injury or surgery
  • Bone loss diagnosis in old age  
  • Severe hair loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Weight gain [23]

If you suffer any combination of these symptoms it is vital that you speak to your doctor. They are usually subtle, making it hard to tell if they are a result of a Vitamin D deficiency or something else. As a result, Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common with most people not being aware of it [24].  

If you have been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency, suspect you may have a Vitamin D deficiency or have been prescribed supplements, you should check your Vitamin D levels via blood test every three months. Normal levels should be above 30ng/ml [25]. It is recommended to aim for over 50ng/ml for optimal immunity [26]. This can now be done from the comfort of your own home via special testing kits. Peace of mind is just one lancet prick away.

Sources:

[1] Can vitamin D ward off acute respiratory tract infections? (mcmasteroptimalaging.org)

[2] Overview | COVID-19 rapid guideline: vitamin D | Guidance | NICE

[3] Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)

[4] Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Higher Hospitalization Risk From COVID-19: A Retrospective Case-control Study - PubMed (nih.gov)

[5] [6] [18] Vitamin D and Depression: How Vitamin D May Affect Your Mood (insider.com)

[7] [8] The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use

[9] [10] How to get vitamin D from sunlight - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

[17] [19] [20] Vitamin D | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

[11] How to get the most vitamin D from the sun: Tips and other sources (medicalnewstoday.com)

[12] [21] [22] Vitamin D - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

[13] ] [16] [25] [26] 5 new health and wellness trends worth trying (harpersbazaar.com)

[14] [15] How Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 Work Together | BetterYou

[23] [24] Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Treatments, Causes and More (healthline.com)

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More jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, electrifying, breathtaking, exhilarating content is on it's way!

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Published on
March 22, 2022
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March 17, 2022
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Coming Soon...

More jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, electrifying, breathtaking, exhilarating content is on it's way!

Listen to article
Published on
March 22, 2022
Updated on
March 17, 2022
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