Information about Vitamin D
VItamin D is recognised as having an important role in our bodies, from supporting our immunity to potentially supporting our immune response against respiratory infection, as well as having a role in keeping bones strong.
Where do we get our Vitamin D from?
We obtain Vitamin D naturally through sunshine on our skin. Manufactured forms of the vitamin and food sources of Vitamin D are poorer sources of it.
How much Vitamin D do I need and should I be taking supplements?
To protect bone and muscle health, the UK Government advises that everyone needs Vitamin D equivalent to an average daily intake of 10 micrograms (400 international units). They advise that all people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms vitamin D during autumn and winter months.
The levels of Vitamin D required for good immunity are higher than the levels we need to protect our bones. Based on this, it’s estimated that 40% of the population will be Vitamin D deficient.
Other factors to be aware of:
- People with darker skin have a much higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency.
- People who are obese need higher levels of Vitamin D to get the same blood levels as the vitamin is fat-soluble and Vitamin D in the blood moves into fatty tissue.
- Reduced light levels and sun exposure during winter months makes deficiency more common in the winter and spring, when we are also most at risk of respiratory infection.
Vitamin D and Coronavirus
There is no trial evidence yet to prove that Vitamin D prevents COVID-19 (coronavirus) or reduces the severity of the infection, because COVID-19 is such a new infection.
Observation has shown that people with darker skin and those with obesity are at greater risk from COVID-19 infection and this may be related to the lower Vitamin D levels seen in these groups of people.
Regardless of whether you decide to take Vitamin D or not we would reiterate the other important measures to take to reduce your risk of catching / spreading COVID-19:
- Physical distancing
- Regular hand washing
- Reducing face to face contacts outside of your household, especially when indoors.
- Prompt reporting of symptoms and testing if you do develop symptoms
- Looking after your wellbeing - fresh air, a healthy diet and weight, regular exercise, staying mentally well and resilient.
- Working together as a community to protect us all.
Can I have my Vitamin D levels monitored / tested by the practice?
We are not routinely testing Vitamin D levels in the practice population for the following reasons:
- Our local laboratories are not staffed or funded to provide population monitoring of Vitamin D levels.
- If we divert our resources (time, staff and money) to taking blood tests for Vitamin D it will jeopardise the capacity and safety of other care we need to provide, both non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 related.
- Somerset CCG (who provide us with funding and guidance on the services we should provide to our patients) encourages patients to purchase their own Vitamin supplements and discourages GPs from prescribing them. This means we are unable to prescribe you with Vitamin D.
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