Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps the body to absorb calcium, which helps to strengthen and maintain healthy bones. As a result, it is well understood that becoming deficient in the vitamin could cause bone deformities. What is less understood is the role vitamin D plays in other key areas, and one area in particular may heighten your risk of catching the coronavirus.
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The coronavirus, a new strain of virus that broke out in the Wuhan province of China back in December, has caused worldwide fatalities and paralysed industries in its wake.
Detailed investigations of the coronavirus have revealed that it is a respiratory infection so produces signs similar to the common cold or flu.
Why is this relevant to a vitamin D deficiency?
Several large observational studies have shown a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
This is because one of vitamin D’s primary roles is keeping your immune system strong so you’re able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
Research shows that it directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection.
It is therefore reasonable to infer that having a vitamin D deficiency could heighten your risk of catching the coronavirus.
A similar logic suggests increasing your dosage of vitamin D may offer protection against the deadly virus.
A number of studies have found that taking vitamin D supplements at a dosage of up to 4,000 IU daily may reduce your risk of resp
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In one study in people with the chronic lung disorder COPD, only those who were severely deficient in vitamin D experienced a significant benefit after taking a high-dose supplement for one year.
Who is at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
Some people won’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
According to the Department of Health, you are at an increased risk if you:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, explains the health body.
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You should consider consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if you are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency, says the NHS.
There is one key caveat, however. As the health body explains, taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia).
This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful, warns the NHS.
“Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor, the health body notes.
If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice, says the health site.
It adds: “You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.”
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