How vitamin D could be the key to fighting lockdown blues

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Vitamin D, mostly received through direct sunlight exposure, is essential for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. However, it does much more than that. New research has found that vitamin D can cheer you up, regulate the immune system, and improve mental health, and we could all do with a little extra help in these departments during the winter lockdown. Express.co.uk reveals how vitamin D could help you fight lockdown blues.

Between late March and the end of September, most of us don’t need to take vitamin D supplements.

This is because we get enough from the sun when we are outdoors.

However, the NHS is advising us all to take vitamin D supplements because we’ve been indoors more than usual this year thanks to the pandemic.

The site advises: “You should take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep your bones and muscles healthy.”

At least one in five of us are normally deficient in vitamin D, and even more are likely to be lacking in the vitamin during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Whilst the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency can be very subtle, the following may indicate the need for a diagnosis from your doctor:

  • Tiredness/fatigue
  • Slight pain in the bones
  • Weakness in muscles, cramps or slight aches
  • Mood changes, like depression

Vitamin D isn’t just about keeping the bones, teeth and muscles healthy, though, new research has pointed out.

A lack of vitamin D has been linked to various ailments from heart disease to weight gain and even depression.

A spokesperson for Supplement Place said: “Vitamin D overall doesn’t just help build strong bones, which is the common misconception.

“It helps regulate the immune system and the neuromuscular system, playing a huge role in the life cycle of human cells.

“The human body can produce vitamin D, but only after skin exposure to sunlight [UVB rays].

“With the current lockdowns and reduced daylight hours, there is no surprise that many people are lacking in this vital vitamin.”

Vitamin D could also be the key to fighting lockdown blues, according to recent studies.

The Supplement Place spokesperson said: “Studies have also shown a strong link between vitamin D and mood.

“With many people suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), the darker days and the increased restrictions due to COVID-19, mood can be seriously affected.”

“The percentage of adults experiencing some form of depression has almost doubled since March.”

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We could all do with a mood boost at the moment, but does vitamin D really work?

There is no specific evidence that vitamin D can cure anything, but some studies have shown a link between those suffering with depression and those with low levels of vitamin D, or that those with lower levels of vitamin D were at a much greater risk of depression.

Supplement Place has said vitamin D can improve your health in a number of ways, for example it:

  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth, muscle function, blood calcium levels and the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
  • Has a role in the process of cell division
  • Helps to reduce the risk of falling associated with postural instability and muscle weakness. Falling is a risk factor for bone fractures among men and women 60 years of age and older
  • Contributes to the normal function of the immune system
  • Is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children

How to get enough vitamin D

According to Supplement Place, although the UK government recommends taking 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D every day, scientific researchers and doctors have called on MPs to raise awareness of the benefit of consuming 4000IU daily to boost the immune system.

The spokesperson added: “Whilst vitamin D can be consumed by eating oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna as well as mushrooms and eggs, the levels of vitamin D present in these foods are low.

“And with around one in five people in the UK having a vitamin D deficiency it has become necessary for some to rely on Vitamin D in supplement form.”

Which vitamin D supplements should I take?

You should take vitamin D3, the spokesperson said.

They explained: “Vitamin D3 is thought to be the most effective form of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is the form produced by plants, whereas D3 is usually found in animal-sources, however there are now vegan-friendly D3 supplements available from algae and lichen sources.”

Since vitamin D is fat soluble, it is best to take it with food that contains fat.

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