Some estimates have indicated that over a billion people in the world are either deficient or insufficient in Vitamin D1. And with the lockdown, and requests to stay indoors, it's so much harder to get enough of this important vitamin.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is crucial to the proper functioning of your body. It is a unique vitamin, in that it behaves like a hormone2. The “sunshine vitamin” is produced, when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight3.
It is also fat-soluble, so it can be stored in your body for long Periods3. This vitamin comes in two main types, D2 and D33. D3 is more effective at providing the body with Vitamin D3.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorous3. It is thus a very important element in maintaining healthy bones3. It also plays a key role in supporting immune function3.
Not getting enough vitamin D can severely impair these areas of your health, along with causing other problems as well. Despite its importance, Vitamin D deficiency is, unfortunately, a common problem around the world2. Some populations are at even greater risk of developing this deficiency, including darker-skinned individuals and older adults2.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency often go unnoticed by most people. Some of these are:
- A greater frequency of illness and infections
- Pain in the bones
- Bone loss2
Is there a Link Between COVID-19 and Vitamin D?
There are some studies currently underway, researching a possible link between Vitamin D deficiency and the symptoms experienced after catching coronavirus.
Those who propose these claims believe that Vitamin D may play a crucial role in how this infection behaves. The claims are, however, sketchy and unsubstantiated.1
According to Health Canada, “at this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 or any natural health products that are authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19.”2
Some researchers have been focused on a phenomenon known as “cytokine storm” whereby the immune system becomes overactive in response to an infection.4 They believe, this is the main problem caused by the coronavirus, which triggers the body to attack its own lung tissues in response to the infection.4
Others are preparing to conduct experiments, with COVID-19 patients being given vitamin D supplements, to see if this has any positive effect on the condition.3
It is important to highlight, that these studies are still ongoing, and have not been peer-reviewed or proven. There is no real evidence showing that more Vitamin D will prevent or reduce the effects of COVID-19. There is also a good chance that the researchers are misinterpreting the correlations found.
As Dr. David Seres of Columbia University states, the “conclusions drawn in this study can be misleading” and he cautions the public not to use these claims “to change one’s behaviour.”4
It is important to keep in mind that Vitamin D toxicity is also a real thing, and going over the recommended daily intake of 4000 IU can be quite detrimental to your health.5
So don’t start gulping down Vitamin D. You’re much better off following public health guidelines about proper handwashing, hygiene and isolation in order to keep yourself and your community safe in these unprecedented times.
On the other hand, Vitamin D will help to maintain and support your immune system, which may help while dealing with infections.
What Can I Do to Get Enough Vitamin D?
As mentioned, the primary source of Vitamin D is sunlight. It is only found naturally in certain foods including fatty fish.4 However, to get the required amount you would need to eat large amounts, daily.4 For this reason, it is often difficult to get enough from food.7
Modern lifestyles and work culture, mean most people are exposed to very little sunlight most of the week. This has now been exacerbated by the COVID-19 restrictions and isolation policy.
Try to get some time in the sun whenever you can. However, keep in mind not to overdo it, as there is always the risk of sunburn and the resultant risk of skin cancer.2 Wearing sunscreen will prevent this risk. But sunscreen also blocks the skin’s ability to absorb the sun’s rays, which in turn limits production of Vitamin D in the body.
It’s not hard to see why many people find it difficult to get enough of this crucial vitamin!
Try Vitamin D Supplements
Supplements are a great way to make sure you get enough Vitamin D and prevent deficiency. When choosing your supplements, make sure you verify the safety and authenticity of the manufacturer.
If you’re looking for the right brand, one to try is Bill Natural Sources. A certified Canadian company that specializes in safe and effective Natural Health Products. You can have your pick among several forms including softgels, gummies and drops for babies.
There are also higher levels such as the 1000 IU for adults and lower ones for children. They’ll love the gummies! All these are made from the more effective Vitamin D3.
But make sure to follow the labels. Health Canada recommends a daily upper limit of 4000 IU for Vitamin D. As important as this vitamin is for your health, too much is still not a good thing.
Also, make sure to still get some sunshine when you can and maintain a healthy diet. Supplements are meant to be just that – a supplement to your healthy lifestyle, not a replacement!