Most of us in this country, men and women, young and old, are in need of a little Hormone Replacement Therapy… Vitamin D!
This vitamin works as a hormone in our bodies. Our skin makes it after sun exposure, and then it is activated by the liver and kidneys into a form that can regulate calcium levels. This technically makes it a hormone instead of a true vitamin, and a lovely little Zoom Quiz fact. Although it is essential for health in our bodies, most of us do not get enough, even through food. High enough quantities of vitamin D are not found naturally in almost any foods apart from oily fish. We can make it ourselves from adequate unprotected sunshine exposure, but sadly none at all between the months of October to April in the UK. As as result about a quarter of the population are clinically deficient in this micronutrient.
The link between vitamin D and bone health is long established. But why is Vitamin D making the news, and should I be taking a supplement? The government released new guidance in December 2020, in time for the lockdown, that everyone should take a supplement during the autumn and winter months. Those identified by a doctor as being extremely clinically vulnerable could opt in to receive a free 4-month supply of daily vitamin D oral capsules.
There is mounting evidence to suggest that a lack of vitamin D will increase the susceptibility and severity of a COVID-19 infection. A study in the Spanish outbreak revealed a deficiency of vitamin D was found in 80% of patients, suggesting it was at least in some way related to fighting infection, even if the mechanism is not as yet firmly medically established.
The Lancet journal has recently concluded that NICE should continue to monitor new evidence for the relationship between vitamin D and immunity as it emerges during this pandemic, and in the meantime that, ‘vitamin D supplementation is generally safe and that any potential low toxicity would likely be strongly outweighed by any potential benefits in relation to protection from COVID-19’.
I came across an advert for beer placed in a magazine in 1936 that reads ‘To help maintain the peak of sunny summer health – to help maintain rugged resistance to winter colds and sickness – drink Schlitz, with Sunshine Vitamin D’. It may be that our medical research is only now catching up with the benefits of this vitamin noted many years ago.
At LWP we want to help you optimise your immune system through every way we can. Identifying and treating vitamin D deficiency in high-risk patients is something we do routinely consider, through blood tests and prescribing the correct form and dose of vitamin D now in tablet form, rather than beer. We will ensure your prescription is based on your current levels and individual health needs. Those with pre existing health conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes or auto-immune disorders, may have a natural need for more of this vitamin and your prescription might look different to someone else you know also being supplemented. If you’re normally fit and well and are concerned about low vitamin D levels there’s no need for a blood test to check, you can safely take a daily supplement over the counter especially over the winter months to keep you topped up.
With Spring springing, we at LWP wish our community sunshine, happiness and health.