Vitamin D is a naturally occurring vitamin in the body and is produced when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun as well as some foods such as fish, red meat, egg yolks, milk, cheese, and vegetables. In your body, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role within your immune system, which is your body’s first defence against any type of infection or disease.
Vitamin D has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, and enhances the function of immune cells, including T cells and macrophages, that protect your body against pathogens.
If you have low Vitamin D you will have an increased risk of respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as viral and bacterial respiratory infections.
Vitamin D & COVID-19
It has been suggested that one of the risk factors for COVID-19 has been Vit D deficiency. According to research carried out in Indonesian by Emerginnova, the “odds of death are higher in older and male cases with pre-existing condition and below normal Vitamin D levels.” This research was carried out by a relatively small sample of 780 people and official bodies including the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are still reviewing the role of Vitamin D in the context of respiratory infections and coronavirus. However, SACN have now stated that taking 10ug per day may provide some additional benefit in reducing the risk of acute respiratory tract infections.
Many health experts in both the UK and Irish governments have suggested that a Vitamin D policy should be part of the recovery strategy for COVID-19. Dr Daniel McCartney, director of human nutrition and dietetics at TU Dublin, has said “Very large background studies pooling data from dozens of individual trials have described an approximately 10% reduction in risk of respiratory infection amongst people taking vitamin D supplements, and a more than 50% reduction in risk amongst those with low vitamin D levels to begin with, especially if taking supplements daily.”
Testing for Vitamin D
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from a vitamin deficiency. The most accurate way to measure how much Vit D is in your body is to get a blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates Vitamin D deficiency.
As part of our Everyman & Everywoman health checks, we test your Vitamin D levels to determine whether you have this deficiency. This is particularly important to test during winter months. These health programmes offer the world’s most comprehensive health checks and trace up to 150 different indicators of disease in the body, even before symptoms have presented themselves.