Are you getting enough Vitamin D while staying at home?
As we move into our fourth week of lockdown with at least another 3 weeks more, the seasons are also changing and the blossom, warmer temperatures and sunshine have provided us with a much-needed break from the rainy winter we have all endured. However, many of us are stuck inside as we all unite behind the government policy of staying at home to slow down the spread of the virus in order to help our NHS and healthcare workers to cope, as well as protecting those with weakened immune systems from contracting COVID-19.
As a nation, were it not for the current global pandemic, we would have spent a larger percentage of our time outdoors this year gaining our essential “dose” of Vitamin D which supports our immune systems. So, can supplementation help?
In the news
The Scottish government recently updated their guidance on Vitamin D supplementation and have recommended that all ages groups supplement during this time of lockdown and self-isolation.
We are currently advising people to stay at home. For most people, this will mean being indoors for much of the day and not getting enough Vitamin D from sunshine exposure
Why have they changed their advice? Well many studies in the past have indicated a link between a weak immune system and low levels of Vitamin D. More recently, researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College commented on their findings in relation to the current COVID-19 crisis. Dr Eamon Laird, Research Fellow in Medical Gerontology and co-author of the report, said:
These findings show our older adults have high levels of Vitamin D deficiency which could have a significant negative impact on their immune response to infection…….There is an even larger risk now of deficiency with those cocooning or confined indoors…..
The BDA also offers specific advice for the general public on Vitamin D supplementation, especially with the additional indoor time we are all having to endure.
…if you can, you should seek to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine (e.g. your garden or balcony). However, if you are having to self isolate or if you are unable to go outside, you should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms to ensure a healthy Vitamin D status (for adults and children over the age of one)
How does Vitamin D help?
It is widely accepted that Vitamin D is necessary for the functioning of your immune system with its anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties being crucial for the activation of the immune system defences. We also know that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to decreased lung function, affecting the body’s ability to fight respiratory infections with some studies indicating that vitamin D supplements can enhance the immune response and protect against respiratory infections overall.
This study demonstrated that Vitamin D deficiency could be a risk factor for the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and found that patients with, and at risk of ARDS, are highly likely to be deficient, and the severity of Vitamin D deficiency relates to increased epithelial damage, the development of ARDS and survival. The paper presents evidence that an easily treatable vitamin deficiency may increase the risk of ARDS in patients at risk.
A 2017 BMJ review that included over 10,000 people showed that supplementing with Vitamin D decreased the risk of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in both those who were deficient in Vitamin D and those with sufficient levels. The protective effect was strongest in those with low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D supplements have also been shown to reduce mortality in older adults, who are according to the latest data, are primary candidates for developing respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
In a recent paper examining the potential for Vitamin D supplementation to support natural defences to COVID-19, the authors highlight a mechanism by which correcting Vitamin D deficiency is thought to suppress CD26, a molecule for COVID-19 host cell invasion. They write:
Vitamin D may also attenuate interferon gamma and interleukin-6 inflammatory responses, both potent predictors of poorer outcome in critically-ill ventilated patients including those with Covid-19
A wider look at the contribution of trace minerals and vitamins can be read in this review concluding:
Vitamin D deficiency is correlated with a higher susceptibility to infections due to impaired localized innate immunity and defects in antigen-specific cellular immune response. Overall, inadequate intake and status of these vitamins and minerals may lead to suppressed immunity, which predisposes to infections and aggravates malnutrition”
Should I take Vitamin D supplements even when the sun is shining?
According to national surveys in the UK, across the population, approximately 1 in 5 people have low Vitamin D levels (defined as serum levels below 25 nmol/L), and unsurprisingly, people who are most vitamin D deficient benefit the most from supplementation. Also, factors like how old you are (70-yr-old makes 4x less Vitamin D 20-something), your skin tone (pale people make Vitamin D the fastest) are no doubt exacerbated by lockdown especially as we are all unable to get out as much.
In summary Vitamin D plays many crucial roles in your body, one of them being promoting the health of your immune system. There is significant scientific research suggesting that supplementing with Vitamin D may protect against respiratory infections, particularly for those who are deficient in the vitamin. To be clear there is currently no direct evidence that taking any supplement, including Vitamin D, reduces your risk of developing COVID-19 as a result of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but there are studies and mechanisms starting to suggest a potential link.
We recommend our Vitamin D3 products below:
Vegan Vitamin D3+K2+A – a complete D3 product, our Vegan Vitamin D3+K2+A formulation delivers a blend of synergistic fat-soluble vitamins (900μg Vitamin A; 100μg Vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7; 50μg (2000iu) Vitamin D3). The Vitamin D3 in this product is derived from algal sources (rather than relying on Vitamin D3 from lanolin from sheep’s wool) so is suitable for vegans. Vitamins do not work in isolation; Vitamin K2 works synergistically with Vitamin D and Vitamin A supplementation alongside Vitamin D3 avoids unbalanced excess or artificial deficiency of either vitamin.
Vegan Vitamin D3 – Many Vitamin D3 products and Vitamin D3 dietary sources are derived from animal sources so are not suitable for vegans, and or acceptable for some vegetarians. Vegan Vitamin D3 capsules contain cholecalciferol from special, organic lichen, which are a small and unique plant species with many attributes including the ability to photosynthesise, survive in extreme climates and have the ability to grow and accumulate meaningful levels of useful nutrients, including Vitamin D3. There are many different species of lichen; the Nutrigold Vegan Vitamin D3 contains a carefully selected strain with proven levels of cholecalciferol (2000iu per capsule).
Vitamin D3 spray – for a lower dose Vitamin D3 and lasting for 6 months for a family of 4, this peppermint mouth spray delivers 1000iu cholecalciferol per spray. Vitamin D contributes to normal growth and development of bones in children, maintenance of normal bones, teeth and muscle function, normal absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus and normal function of the immune system.
Bivona G, Agnello L, Ciaccio M. The immunological implication of the new vitamin D metabolism. Cent Eur J Immunol. 2018;43(3):331–334. doi:10.5114/ceji.2018.80053 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305614/
Di Rosa M, Malaguarnera M, Nicoletti F, Malaguarnera L. Vitamin D3: a helpful immuno-modulator. Immunology. 2011;134(2):123–139. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03482.x – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194221/
Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21527855/
Zosky GR, Berry LJ, Elliot JG, James AL, Gorman S, Hart PH. Vitamin D deficiency causes deficits in lung function and alters lung structure. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011;183(10):1336–1343. doi:10.1164/rccm.201010-1596OC – https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201010-1596OC
Martineau Adrian R, Jolliffe David A, Hooper Richard L, Greenberg Lauren, Aloia John F, Bergman Peter et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data BMJ 2017; 356 :i6583 – https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583
Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, Nikolova D, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of mortality in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(1):CD007470. Published 2014 Jan 10. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007470.pub3 – https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd007470.pub3
Dancer RCA, Parekh D, Lax S, et al Vitamin D deficiency contributes directly to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) Thorax 2015;70:617-624. – https://thorax.bmj.com/content/70/7/617