This Morning: Dr Chris discusses vitamin D and Covid
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Vitamin D, which is naturally present in a few foods, is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because we get most of ours from sunlight exposure. Getting enough vitamin D is necessary to keep your body functioning well. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and has other roles in the body, including reduction of inflammation. Nonetheless, too much vitamin D can have a negative impact on your body.
You cannot have too much from sunlight, but you may if you take too many supplements.
Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in many foods. That’s why certain foods have added vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body, which is known as hypercalcaemia. This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
A study published in the National Library of Medicine says that the clinical symptoms of vitamin D toxicity “include neuropsychiatric manifestations” such as lethargy, confusion, irritability, depression and hallucination.
Gastrointestinal symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
The NHS says: “If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.”
The healthy body adds that you should not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
“Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor,” notes the NHS.
The health body adds: “If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.”
Although you can take too many supplements, around 20 percent of adults may have low vitamin D status.
Symptoms can include muscle aches and weakness, waddling gait, chronic widespread pain or bone pain in lower back, pelvis and foot.
In summer months, the majority of the population will get enough vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and a healthy, balanced diet.
Between October and early March the NHS says we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight, so you need to get vitamin D from your diet.
Dietary vitamin D is available in foods such as oily fish, cod liver oil, red meat, fortified cereals, fortified spreads and egg yolks.
In the UK, milk is not fortified with vitamin D, so dairy products contain only small amounts of vitamin D.
The NHS notes that reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus are not backed by enough evidence to know if this is the case.
“There is currently not enough evidence to support taking vitamin D solely to prevent or treat COVID-19,” it says.
In April 2020, the NHS issued a statement, based on recommendations from Public Health England (PHE), that we should all consider taking 10 mcg/day vitamin D as a supplement, to keep our bones and muscles healthy.
This advice has been issued now, largely because of the restrictions imposed by quarantine and lockdown.
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