Vitamin D Time
Even before Covid hit, Vitamin D supplementation was recommended for during pregnancy – because incredibly up to half of pregnant women in the UK are affected by vitamin D deficiency. But now there is even MORE reason to pop that tablet. There is growing evidence that low levels of vitamin D might be associated with more serious respiratory symptoms if you get Covid.
In the colder months it is virtually impossible to take in enough vitamin D without a supplement. Our main source is produced by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight – but our British rays will not do enough in winter, and this year in particular we be spending more time inside our homes and are unlikely to have a Christmas vitamin D blitz in the Caribbean. And if we have darker skin we are even more likely to become low on vitamin D as need more sunlight to make the same amount of vitamin D because of absorbing less UV radiation.
There is vitamin D in certain foods (oily fish, red meat, eggs, mushrooms, fortified cereals), so we can try and eat decent amounts, but it is unlikely to be enough.
Why is getting enough vitamin D important? We need vitamin D to function! Its chief role is to regulate our calcium and phosphate levels. It is vital for our immune system, strong bones, healthy muscles, fighting cancer, and growing a baby! It is required for the development of baby’s growing bones, lungs and immune system, and low vitamin D levels in mum increases the chance of her developing pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. We also know it helps us fight respiratory infections, so it should be no surprise that not having enough appears to be associated with more severe respiratory symptoms of Covid.
The recommended supplement is 10iu per day, which is the amount in pregnancy vitamins. Women with darker skin tones or who cover their skin are advised to take a greater amount and the GP can advise in cases of vitamin D deficiency.
If ever there was a season to keep those vitamins stocked up, it is now!