Why is taking vitamin D particularly important during Covid-19 pandemic?

Taking vitamin D would not prevent you from getting Covid-19; but avoiding deficiency is important to remain healthy whether you are worried about COVID-19 or not.

Vitamin D is also called colecalciferol. It controls calcium and phosphate levels in the body which helps maintain bones, teeth, muscles and general wellbeing. Normally people get enough vitamin D from sunlight between March and September in the UK. However, during Covid-19 lockdown you may not be getting enough sun exposure. Low levels of vitamin D is called “vitamin D deficiency”. The NHS recommends people take 400 units of vitamin D each day if we are at risk of deficiency. The main symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are bone pain or unexplained tiredness. Vitamin D is in some foods, and supplements can be bought from pharmacies, health food shops and many supermarkets, including on-line.

Who is most at risk of low levels of vitamin D?

National advice tells us there is a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency is people who:

  • are over 65 years of age
  • are overweight
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • are spending a lot of time indoors
  • have darker skin tones such as those of Mediterranean heritage or Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background including those of mixed-race

Food sources of vitamin D: It can be obtained from diet in fish (salmon), dairy products (milk/ cheese), and red meat. It can still be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone so check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking vitamin D supplements. You can increase your vitamin D levels by exposing your skin to sunlight, unless your doctor advises you against this.

I have dietary requirements; can I still take vitamins D supplements?

If buying supplements, you will need to check at the time if it is appropriate for you. If you have any illness e.g. kidney or liver impairment, pregnant or breastfeeding you need you will need to discuss with your healthcare team. Ask your pharmacist if you require vegan or vegetarian supplements.

Potential side effects from taking vitamins and minerals

Most people do not experience side-effects from taking them. However, like any treatment there is a possibility of experiencing side effects, so it is important to not exceed the recommended dose and to report any new symptoms to your pharmacist or GP.

19 May 2020

Government guidance has information on what everyone must do to help stop the spread of coronavirus. There is also information on spotting the symptoms, advice for vulnerable groups, and information about government support for businesses and workers.

Read it here.

 

 

Dr Ryan Kemp, Director of Therapies has pulled together this material; ‘Face Covid’ is a set of practical steps for responding effectively to the Coronavirus crisis, using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Doctors of the World, in association with UK Red Cross and Clear Voice have produced translations of Govt advice and information on COVID-19 in a range of languages.

You can subscribe to receive notifications of any updates to these documents  in line with evolving Govt advice. See link and email below.

Please find them on this website.

Rapid guidelines just published by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, on the treatment of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) "strongly encourage" patients to quit smoking. 

Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant in Respiratory and Intensive Care Medicine, and currently working on the frontline treating patients suffering from COVID-19, said: “The NICE guidelines are spot on, doctors should be strongly encouraging smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to quit. In fact they should be encouraging all smokers to quit, as early evidence from China shows that smokers who contract COVID-19 are more likely to develop severe disease, to end up in intensive care and to die. Smokers should try to quit without delay. The benefits from quitting are immediate, including increased oxygen supply to the lungs, reduced risk of respiratory infections, and improvements in blood pressure. Longer-term benefits include significant reductions in the risk of developing cancer, heart disease and COPD.”

ASH is working with doctors in the NHS, Public Health England and health charities across the country to support smokers trying to quit at this difficult time. Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: "This is a worrying time for all of us and people want to know how best to protect themselves and those around them. For smokers, quitting will immediately improve their health, as well as those around them and reduce the risk that if they contract coronavirus they will get life threatening symptoms. Smokers who get help to quit are three times as likely to succeed, and while face to face advice is not available currently, the TodayIsTheDay.co.uk website has lots of links and ideas, and if you tweet #QuitForCovid a trained adviser is on hand to answer your questions from 19:30 to 20:30 every evening.”

As a result of the COVID-19 virus you may experience some temporary changes to the sound of your voice, and to your comfort and effort levels when using it. A team of speech and language therapists have compiled some advice for you:

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to take measures to reduce the risk of infection by strengthening your immune system with a balanced diet.

Find out more about maintaining a balanced diet in our new leaflet.