There are many ways to support your immune system over the winter months, good sleep, exercising and a good diet are key fundamentals. As nutritional therapists we advocate eating a varied diet full of vegetables and fruits; ‘eating the rainbow’ as we call it to get as many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the diet as possible. However there is one nutrient that is worth considering as a supplement if you’re not already: Vitamin D.
Nutri Advanced – who are one of our practitioner supplement companies – say;
‘Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is important for supporting the body’s ability to fight infection. Unlike most essential nutrients, the main source of vitamin D is not food, but sunshine; our bare skin produces vitamin D when it comes into contact with the sun’s rays. So, risk of deficiency is higher during the winter months and current estimates suggest that many people are low. Everyone should supplement with a daily maintenance dose (1000-2000iu) during the cooler winter months; it is recommended however that you check your current vitamin D level to ascertain the optimal daily dose for you. If you decide to supplement, then choose vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which is the form of vitamin D produced naturally in response to sunlight and is the preferred form’.
So how much vitamin D should you take?
This is a common question we get asked and because we like to be accurate and to help you answer that question we have recently purchased through Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Hospitals, vitamin D test kits which are an easy finger prick test that you can carry out in the comfort of your own home and send off to the lab to get your results, so that you can find out your level and then we can advise you on Vitamin D supplements accordingly. And if you have been taking Vitamin D, you may well want to take a test to see what your levels are now.
In light of the connections that you may have read about in the news regarding Vitamin D and Covid 19, their vitamin D test website currently has this notice;
‘Five thousand of our Vitamin D test packs are being used in a national study looking at the role of Vitamin D in Covid-19.’ We will wait to hear those results.
The support for the use of Vitamin D at this time in the pandemic has been growing and at the end of 2020, 185 health, science and medical experts from the UK, Europe and the US penned an open letter to governments around the world presenting a clear case for ‘increased vitamin D use to combat COVID 19’ due to research which has revealed several biological mechanisms by which vitamin D influences COVID 19.
Recently David Davis MP spoke in The Houses of Parliament advocating the benefits of Vitamin D for the whole population, not only after seeing the benefits that the province of Andalusia in Spain have seen in reducing the death rate from Covid 19 cases after introducing Vitamin D supplements to at risk groups but also in line with recent research that has shown that vitamin D plays an important role in the immune system. You can watch this here.
We may not know all of the implications for Vitamin D as yet but here are some key facts;
- Vitamin D is critical for immune health. It enhances the immune response against various infections including upper respiratory tract infections
- Referred to as the sunshine vitamin as we get most of our vitamin D from the sun
- We can’t get enough through food sources alone
- When sunlight touches the skin, the body can make vitamin D in the summer months
- In the winter the sun isn’t strong enough in the UK to make vitamin D
- Evidence now shows that many of us in the UK are deficient in Vitamin D and Public Health England recommend supplementation for everyone through autumn and winter.
There are of other important health benefits of Vitamin D including the prevention of osteoporosis – the disease that causes porous bones, that may lead to fractures. Without sufficient Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium from food and so when blood calcium levels are low, the body will move calcium from the bone into the blood to supply the muscles, especially the heart. So over time this relocation of calcium leads to a decrease in bone mass which may lead to bones breaking more easily.
There is also evidence and we have had this backed up by our customers that Vitamin D can help with seasonal affected disorder otherwise known as SAD, when taken over the autumn and winter. Customers have also reported it helpful for overall mood and increase in energy.
Please do contact the shop if you wish to discuss taking vitamin D over these winter months, we will be happy to advise. If you are taking medication, as ever please do let us know so that we can ensure there are no contraindications.
If you would like to talk about yours or your family’s health, or how Vitamin D could be of benefit, our registered Nutritional therapists are on hand to offer advice and guidance.
You can book a FREE 15 minute health check-in with Alison by clicking here. This is completely FREE and confidential.