I knew Vitamin D was important but recently a member of my family became unwell and we discovered that her Vitamin D levels were very, very low. The symptoms of deficiency are tiredness, aching joints and muscles, depression, slow wound healing and repeated infections. It can make you feel very shaky and also increases your stress response. If you are elderly or overweight you are likely to have lower levels.
How do you know it’s Vitamin D and not something else? Well you can ask your GP for a test, though at the moment that might not be the best way. There are also plenty of low cost private tests out there. Please do get in touch if you need help.
There’s been a lot of talk about Vitamin D in the press because of Corona virus so I thought I’d put some of the ideas together for you.
Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin which means that cells all round the body have receptors to detect it’s active form. It is carried around the body bound to a protein and used to support bone formation, hormone balance and immune regulation among other things. It is therefore vital that we get enough.
So how does this affect us in every day life?
Vitamin D and glucose metabolism – Insulin tells our cells to take sugar into the cell from the blood stream. If Vitamin D levels are low then not enough insulin will be produced. Vitamin D also affects the messages that the insulin sends and the sugar stays in the blood. Anyone with diabetes or a family history of diabetes would be sensible to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D and Thyroid hormones – low Vitamin D has been shown to affect thyroid function so if you are feeling tired, your skin and hair are dry and/or you have trouble losing weight, then you could have a thyroid problem. It’s certainly worth checking your Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D and the Immune system – a recent study showed that most of our immune cells have their own Vitamin D receptor and an enzyme to help us use the Vitamin D. The action of T cells (a type of immune cell) is determined by the activity of these receptors. T cells are known to protect the body from pathogens and cancer.
Vitamin D and COVID 19 – as discussed in The Times on 18th May, lower levels of mortality occur with better Vitamin D status. So The Times suggests that during lockdown we should all be taking a Vitamin D supplement unless we are able to get out in the sun enough. Taking Vitamin D will not prevent you from getting the Corona virus but is appears that it could help your immune system to be stronger if you do.
How do we get enough Vitamin D, as The BBC said on 19th March, “normally, many of us get it by spending time outside. Our skin makes it when exposed to the sun”. To get it from the sun you will need at least 15-30 minutes with arms exposed in strong sunlight, without sunscreen. People with darker skin need more. By all means put sunscreen on after that but I suggest you give yourself a little time without first. Take care to protect your skin from burning! and be careful if you have any skin lesions of any sort.
There are many articles and studies suggesting that we should be taking a supplement. So which one and how much?
I suggest that unless you have had a blood test that you take 1000 iu (international units) that’s 25 micrograms of Vitamin D3 in drop or spray form preferably with Vitamin K2 as it helps the body to absorb the Vitamin D. I use the NutriAdvanced drops and BetterYou make a spray version. If you have had a test and you know your levels are low then you are OK to take more but it is important not to take too much as surplus can also cause problems for the body! Hard to get it right.
Hope you found this helpful, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.