The importance of vitamin D supplements during lockdown
Vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, has been in the news recently about the risk of deficiency during lockdown.
We wanted to dig a little deeper so that you can understand more about this essential vitamin, why it’s so important and how supplements can help, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
What is vitamin D?
Our bodies produce vitamin D naturally during exposure to sunlight, although it can also be found in food sources including oily fish, cereals, egg yolks and red meat. However, studies show that 95% of older adults fail to get even the RDA (daily target dose) from food alone!
Why do we need vitamin D?
Vitamin D is one of the key micronutrients that is involved in SO many biochemical processes, and by having low levels, it can lead to poorer health.
This wonder vitamin is needed to help maintain bone density and strength as we age. It is also required at optimal levels to maintain a healthy muscle function and we know that low levels can lead to weaknesses that can cause falls and fractures.
Our immune system is also dependant on having normal vitamin D levels, which is so important to protect right now.
Whether vitamin D can help further support respiratory infections is an area that has also been studied in a huge meta-analysis (pooling of many high-quality trials), recently published by a group of scientists.
This recent article published in the illustrious BMJ (British Medical Journal) showed that those taking vitamin D daily reduced the possibility of getting upper respiratory disease by as much as 70%, demonstrating a possible protective effect of this nutrient.
Who may benefit from vitamin D supplements?
We know factually, that less than 10% of older adults get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) from food alone, so sunlight exposure is therefore needed.
Most of our vitamin D is made in our skin from sunlight exposure. However, during the pandemic, sunlight is not always in plentiful supply, especially for the more vulnerable who may be self-isolating, spending most of the day indoors.
This means that the vast majority of us will end up with low levels of this important vitamin. In addition, with older adults, the rate at which they make vitamin D is much slower than younger adults, so this can turn out to be a real problem.
But it’s not just older adults who fail to get or make enough vitamin D. People with darker skin too find the vitamin D synthesis machinery much less efficient due to the high melanin pigment levels in their skin, hence the reason why people from the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic groups) should always supplement with vitamin D.
So how do you know if you’re suffering from vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency is actually quite common, although a lot of people are unaware that they have it.
It will affect your immune system, contributing to the risk of catching a cold or flu and a list of other viral and bacterial infections. You may feel more tired and feel pain in your bones and lower back. A deficiency can also lower your mood, with links to depression with older adults.
Symptoms are subtle and fortunately, it is usually easy to fix by changing your diet, going in your garden to increase your exposure to sunlight and taking supplements that contain vitamin D.
What’s Public Health England saying?
Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing. They have recently extended their recommendation on vitamin D to ALL adults. This is because of concerns that people are missing out on the vitamin due to advisory measures to stay indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
A coronavirus update on the NHS says ‘consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy’.
It comes as Spanish researchers are starting to conduct trials and research to see whether the benefits of vitamin D, especially its anti-inflammatory properties, can prevent coronavirus symptoms from worsening. However, this news is still in its research phase and there is no evidence that this is a cure for the virus.
How can Prime Fifty supplements help?
With the advice that people in the UK should consider taking a supplement to support their overall health and wellbeing, we think you should choose a product from our musculoskeletal health range.
We have formulated all our products with four times the recommended daily target of vitamin D.
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