Why now is the time to think about your vitamin D levels in the UK
To quote a famous tv series, 'Winter is coming', and in the Northern hemisphere natural Vitamin D production following exposure to sunshine is dramatically reduced over the next few months. Vitamin D levels can drop quite rapidly, as Vitamin D is a vitamin which is constantly being absorbed from the diet, made by the body, and used, with not a great deal of storage or reserve.
Why is your vitamin D level important
COVID-19 has highlighted the link between low Vitamin D levels and risk of infection and illness. The exact mechanism and role played by Vitamin D in the bodies immune system is only just starting to be understood, and studied scientifically. What is clear, is that low Vitamin D levels are a clear risk indicator of problematic COVID-19 illness, and the more severe and long term complications.
Can we get enough vitamin D from diet alone?
Getting enough dietary Vitamin D can be a particular problem for Vegans, individuals on Plant Based Diets and also Vegetarians, but are also common in the larger population from just eating a poor, over processed and highly refined diet.
Not many foods in the UK contain sufficient quantities of vitamin d, so it can be hard to get your daily requirement from diet alone. In some countries cows milk is fortified with vitamin d, but this is not so in the UK.
Good sources of dietary vitamin D are:
- Oily fish including salmon , sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat & liver
- Foods that have been fortified with vitamin D (eg most plants milks, some margarines, some breakfast cereals)
Vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D supplements are available, and in fact it is recommended by the UK government that everyone over the age of 4 should consider taking them over the winter months. Vitamin D supplements are usually in oil formed capsules, but these can cause reflux and indigestion, in some people, and should be taken with food.
Can I test my vitamin D levels at home?
Luckily there are now simple low cost rapid self-test kits for checking if your vitamin D levels in your blood are normal or inadequate. These lateral flow rapid tests for vitamin d levels in blood, include a lancet for taking a capillary finger prick sample of blood, and give a Vitamin D result within 10 minutes.
It's worth doing a home vitamin d test kit if your diet is restricted or not, considering Vitamin D supplements may improve your bodies natural resistance to a whole raft of common virus infections, not just COVID-19
Whether you choose to simply improve your diet, get outside on sunny days for longer periods or take supplements, a low vitamin d test level can motivate a healthy lifestyle change which prevents winter infections. A repeat home vitamin d test a few weeks later, can also show if the changes you have made has been effective at increasing your vitamin d levels.