Coronavirus link to Vitamin D
October 12, 2020
The Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition and the health watchdog the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have done a rapid review of the evidence due to mounting questions on whether vitamin D can help fight coronavirus.
What is the advice?
Since more people are staying indoors during the pandemic, some may have been deprived of vitamin D. Vitamin D is usually made by our bodies when spending time outdoors, as it is exposed to the sun.
The NHS has said that you should consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day if you are spending a lot of time indoors.
Before the pandemic, people in the UK were already advised to consider taking supplements from October to March, during times with little sunlight exposure.
Public Health England recommends vitamin D throughout the year if:
- you are not often outdoors
- you’re living in a care home
- you usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outside
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a vitamin that is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. A lack of vitamin D can lead to a bone deformity illness called rickets in children. And a similar bone weakness condition in adults called osteomalacia.
There is also evidence that suggests vitamin D boots the immune system and helps fight off infections.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) says studies on using vitamin D for treating or preventing chest infections showed insufficient evidence to recommend it for this.
Can it stop Coronavirus?
A review of research by NICE suggests there is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat coronavirus. However, experts think that it may have some broader health benefits during the pandemic to keep people as nutritionally fit as possible.
Prof Jon Rhodes, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Liverpool, says vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, some research suggests it may dampen down the body’s immune response to viruses.
This could be relevant in very ill coronavirus patients. Where severe lung damage can result from an inflammatory “cytokine storm” in response to the virus, he says. Although much more research is needed.
Should you take lots of it?
Although Vitamin D supplements are safe, taking more than the recommended daily dose can be dangerous in the long run.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements:
- Children aged one to 10 should not have more than 50 micrograms a day
- Infants (under 12 months) should not have more than 25 micrograms a day
- Adults should not have more than 100 micrograms a day, with the recommended amount 10 micrograms a day
Higher doses may sometimes be recommended by a doctor for patients with proven vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, some people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney problems, cannot safely take vitamin D.
Where can you buy it?
Vitamin D supplements are widely available from supermarkets and chemists. They may be just vitamin D or part of a multivitamin tablet. The ingredient listed on the label of most Vitamin D supplements is D3, the one made by your skin. Vitamin D2 is produced by plants. Vitamin drops are available for babies.
Cavendish Homecare’s Advice
Before taking any supplements, we recommend you speak to your GP for further advice.
Being well informed about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risks to yourself and people you care about may help you to keep a more balanced perspective about the pandemic. To that end we hope that you will find the following links useful:
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