It’s important to get enough vitamins in your body, to live a long and healthy life. However, this can be tricky to do, especially when you’re stuck at home with fewer options. In fact, vitamin D is one of the most important minerals that your body needs, yet with the current government lockdown regulations preventing us from going outside unless absolutely necessary, getting enough of it has been quite the battle.
Around 42% of the American population has been found to be deficient in vitamin D, and this was when we were allowed to go outside without a second thought. Now, with so many of us encouraged to stay home, one can only wonder how many of us are getting enough of it.
Why is vitamin D so important?
When the sun’s UVB rays hit the skin, it stimulates the production of vitamin D3 in the body and the body then uses it for a number of important functions.
These functions include helping the body absorb calcium, maintaining healthy blood pressure, as well as reducing the risk of depression. Additionally, it also plays a role in supporting immunity, which is something we all need – especially now.
What does the research say about vitamin D and COVID-19?
After analyzing hospital data from around the world, one study from Northwestern University found that patients with vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to experience severe complications from COVID-19.
Another study, published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, looked at European countries and found a correlation between higher rates of vitamin D deficiencies and higher rates of coronavirus fatalities. The team concluded that “the mean level of vitamin D in each country was strongly associated both with a higher number of COVID-19 cases and with higher mortality due to the disease”.
The team noted how Spain and Italy, which have the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Europe, showed low mean levels of vitamin D in blood in their populations.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency
The U.S. Institute of Medicine suggests that an average daily intake of 10–20 micrograms of vitamin D. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Constantly sick: A study published in the British Medical Journal found a link between a deficiency in vitamin D and respiratory tract infections, so your constant cold and flu may be a result of a deficiency.
- Lack of energy
- Painful bones
- Muscle pain: One study found that around 70% of people with chronic pain are deficient in vitamin D.
Getting vitamin D in quarantine
You can get vitamin D by including vitamin-D foods in your diet. These foods include:
- Fatty fish including tuna, salmon, shrimps, and herrings.
- Eggs, particularly egg yolks
- Mushrooms especially dried shiitake mushrooms
- Cod liver oil
- Beef liver
2. Try to get some sun!
A large amount of our vitamin D intake is made from the sun’s exposure to our skin. However, with the lockdown regulations, it has become harder to get some sun than usual.
Moreover, glass windows filter out UVB rays, and this is the kind that’s needed by the body to produce vitamin D. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can get some sun and still practice social distancing. These include:
- Eat breakfast on your porch, in your backyard, in the garden, or on the balcony
- Work in your garden.
- Play with your dog and kids
- Chat to your neighbors from your balcony or over the fence
- Open your window wide and stretch
- If you can, take a walk around your block
Lastly, don’t forget your sunscreen!
3. Try some supplements
If you’re really worried about your vitamin D levels, you can try out supplements. That said, as supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, it’s important to do your research and ensure that your supplements are from a certified and trusted brand.
The bottom line
Our bodies need vitamin D to stay healthy, but many are deficient in it and during times like these, the situation can be worse. However, there are a few ways you can maintain your vitamin D levels and protect your health.
Daneshkhah, A., Vasundhara A., Eshein, A., Subramanian, H., et al. (2020). medRxiv 2020.04.08.20058578; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058578
Ilie, P.C., Stefanescu, S. & Smith, L. The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality. Aging Clin Exp Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8
Känel, R., Müller-Hartmannsgruber,V., Kokinogenis, G., Egloff, N. (2014). Vitamin D and Central Hypersensitivity in Patients with Chronic Pain, Pain Medicine, Volume 15, Issue 9, Pages 1609–1618, https://doi.org/10.1111/pme.12454
Martineau Adrian R, Jolliffe David A, Hooper Richard L, et al. (2017). Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data BMJ 2017; 356 :i6583