UK adults suffer with exceptionally high levels of vitamin D deficiency. Average serum levels have been reported to be around HALF the optimum level required to support immunity and health.
This isn’t good news as we move into Autumn, and we should all be thinking about a supplement strategy. Why?
Most of us are aware of vitamin D’s role in helping to keep bones strong through promoting calcium absorption and uptake – but vitamin D plays a critical role in supporting immune function too.
Do you have sufficient levels of circulating vitamin D to support your immune system effectively into Autumn?
Nearly EVERY cell of the body has vitamin D receptors (VDR’s) that work with vitamin D to support our immune system by promoting ‘tolerance’ – basically helping to squash autoimmune disease by stopping our bodies attacking our own cells. However, if a pathogen such as a virus is present, vitamin D/VDR complexes can activate our innate immune response to protect us against infection.
Given that there is a compelling amount of evidence strongly implicating varying levels of serum vitamin D with differing outcomes from COVID19 infection, paying attention to our vitamin D levels is arguably more important this year than ever before.
It is interesting that the groups of the population thought to be disproportionately affected by COVID19 are also groups who are more susceptible to low levels of vitamin D; older skin gradually loses the ability to make vitamin D from sunshine; obese individuals require 2 to 5 times more vitamin D (depending on level of obesity); and BAME populations in the west are more likely to be vitamin D deficient as their higher levels of melanin lead to inadequate vitamin D conversion in the UK climate.
There are genetic variants that also increase your risk of low levels of circulating vitamin D levels, and that particular genotype is also very common amongst the UK population.
How much do I need?
With regards to supplementing, the governments updated advice around vitamin D during the pandemic is that everyone should consider supplementing with 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day. However, this is a bit of a shot in the dark when you consider that around 10 times that amount is required to generate the blood levels required to support immunity.
However, don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D per day without first getting your levels tested, as too much vitamin D can be toxic.
You can boost your levels of vitamin D through diet – good dietary sources are;
- Oily fish like salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel
- Egg yolks
Cod liver oil is also a great natural source of vitamin D. 1 tsp per day (or 2 capsules if you prefer), should provide 10 micrograms. It’s a great source of vitamin A too. Don’t take fish liver oils if you are pregnant.