When it comes to our health, now more than ever, we know the importance of getting all the essential vitamins and into our bodies. We aren’t out as much, exercising as much – our bodies are bound to feel a shift. A newly released study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may enhance resistance to respiratory infections such as Covid-19, and being that Irish people tend to be lacking in the Sunshine Vitamin even before all this began, it’s worth taking on board. Here’s a more in-depth look at the importance of it in our diets as we try to stay as healthy as we possibly can during the pandemic.
The sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure we have enough of it in the blood – this we particularly need to be aware of during Covid-19. Vitamin D is important for giving our bodies vital nutrients to help keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Its function is to support your immune health and prevent deficiency symptoms including fatigue and low mood and supporting bone health.
Why do we need it more during Covid-19?
We aren’t getting a whole lot of natural sunlight on our bodies as a result of being indoors much of the time. But also because according to researchers from the Technological University Dublin (TUD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), a combination of factors including poor dietary intake, low supplementation rates and suboptimal sun exposure, has resulted in widespread deficiency across the country.
Dr Daniel McCartney of TUD and Dr Declan Byrne of St. James’s Hospital and School of Medicine, Trinity, recommend that adults living in Ireland take 20-50 micrograms of vitamin D per day.
The report, A Healthcare Professional summary of Optimisation of Vitamin D Status for Enhanced Immuno-protection against Covid-19, by Dr Daniel McCartney of TU Dublin and Dr Declan Byrne of St James’s Hospital and School of Medicine, Trinity, has been published in the Irish Medical Journal.
Where can we get vitamin D from?
Most of our vitamin D comes from direct sunlight on our skin. The vitamin forms under the skin in reaction to sunlight. The best source is summer sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods, but not in large amounts, hence getting outdoors for some sunshine remains important.
Some food sources include:
- Oily fish (salmon and sardines)
- Some breakfast cereals
Most people should be able to get the vitamin D they need by eating a varied and balanced diet (and the foods above) and by getting some sun. Or you can opt for a supplement. Taking 25 micrograms (0.025mg) or less a day of vitamin D supplements is advised