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Thread: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

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    Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Given the current pandemic, I thought I'd make a quick post regarding vitamin D, & the SARS-CoV2 virus. It's not really something you hear about all that much in the media, but there's a great deal of academic research that has looked at vitamin D levels, and individual's outcomes to the COVID-19 illness (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?h...covid-19&btnG=).

    Vitamin D is best known for it's importance to the formation of a healthy skeletal system, but it also plays a crucial role in the functioning of the immune system. Vitamin D is usually primarily produced by the action of sunlight expose on the skin, but at this time of year at northern latitudes such as the UK, even on a sunny day, the sun just isn't strong enough to produce a significant amount of vitamin D. It is possible to increase one's vitamin D levels by eating certain food like oily fish and mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight, but taking supplements is a good idea in order to boost one's levels at this time of year.

    One thing that has received a lot of attention in the media has been the disproportionally negative outcomes of COVID-19 experienced by members of the BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethic) community. Vitamin D deficiency in such groups may be higher due to darker skin colour being an adaptation to living in hotter climates where the sun is extremely strong; in norther climates however, darker skin is less efficient at generating vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. Some reports have highlighted facts such as the kinds of jobs undertaken by members of the BAME community, diabetes obesity & other social factors, but little has been said about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in such groups. Maybe this is due to a reluctance to focus on skin colour as a factor in outcomes for minority groups?

    If you have a visit to your GP lined up, I'd strongly suggest that you ask them for a blood test to check your vitamin D levels, and consider taking supplements if advised to do so.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    ... but taking supplements is a good idea in order to boost one's levels at this time of year.

    ...

    If you have a visit to your GP lined up, I'd strongly suggest that you ask them for a blood test to check your vitamin D levels, and consider taking supplements if advised to do so.
    Two different bits of advice, there. I would certainly agree with the latter, if you are either having a blood test anyway, or have reason to suspect a deficiency. The former? I would suggest seeking advice before taking vitamin supplements, as opposed to increasing specific foodstuffs strong in specific vitamins or other necessary minerals, etc. It is, for instance, possible to cause problems by excessive intake of vitamin D (and others). Look up vitamin D toxicity. Also, the way vitamins are absorbed and utilised are different between absorption from sunlight, and oral supplements.

    Due to some medication, I have to get blood tests every month, and did have a brief course of supplements of calcium and potassium, but despite a fairly indoors lifestyle (not entirely from choice) have had no vitamin deficiencies.

    When I queried taking vitamin supplements, it was suggested I did not attempt to solve a problem unless I knew I had it.
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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Yeah, I think it's wise to wait for the outcome of proper studies before jumping to any conclusion about vitamin D and covid - covid is not the same as flu, and there hasn't yet been enough evidence to say vit D helps with covid. All we know is that there is a correlation between low vitamin D and bad covid outocmes, but that is NOT the same thing as saying one causes the other, it's just as likely that underlying genetic/health/diet/lifestyle leads to bad covid outcomes and also leads to vitamin D deficiency.

    Trials are ongoing though so watch this space.

    Aside from covid though, yes, vit D supplements are well worth taking if you don't get enough sunshine, which staying indoors in winter months is likely to be contributing towards. That's for general health reasons, not covid, though.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    There is some old saying about taking vit d during any month with an r in.

    From what I have read before you have to take big amounts of it to overdose. I think I read something about d2 not being absorbed so easily so effectively is a lower dose and d3 is better.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vitamin-...t-health-guide

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    It is possible to increase one's vitamin D levels by eating certain food like oily fish and mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight
    That's all I needed to hear.....

    https://cranble.com/?q=mushroom

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    I read some study which suggested that vitamin D could help out. The groups tested were very small, but the doctor commenting said that vitamin D is so cheap, unlikely to cause issues, and highly available, that people may as well take it.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by b0redom View Post
    I read some study which suggested that vitamin D could help out. The groups tested were very small, but the doctor commenting said that vitamin D is so cheap, unlikely to cause issues, and highly available, that people may as well take it.
    Not bad advice and probably true but .... my point was that I don't get much sunlight, do get monthly blood tests and don't have a vitamin D deficiency.

    Which just leads me to wonder, for people not getting monthly blood tests, whether taking supplements for a deficiency you don't know you have is a good idea.

    As I understand it, the danger level (which might be too strong a term for the risk) is somewhere around 10x the typical 'supplement' level, so overdosing is unlikely, short of scarfing them down like Smarties, should be pretty safe. And obviously, basing comments on my personal experience is more anecdotal than scientific.

    But my general philosophy is to not take medicine, in which I include supplements, unless you either know or have good reason to suspect you need to. Maybe that's because I already have to take so many that I rattle when I walk.

    That said, I'm a firm believer that everyone ought to get a period MOT from their doctor. Some nasty conditions that can cause serious problems, have no visible effects. The obvious one is hypertension, High blood pressure, to which the risk increases with age but is not restricted to the elderly. And the longer it goes untreated, the greater the problems it can cause, or simply store up. Risk of both stroke and heart attack significantly increase, but long-term untreated High BP also can cause, for instance, hardened arteries and resultant very serious damage. Without checking it from time to time, a lot of damage can be done before you realise it's a problem.

    So I'm certainly not against precautionary measures, and strongly in favour of everyone getting at least their BP tested. I found out I had High blood pressure only when an older relative tested her BP (because she was diagnosed) and I tested mine with her home tester. It suggested a problem so I went to my GP and have been treating it (successfully) for about 25 years now.



    Note: Cheap-ish BP monitors are widely available and easy to use. I'm a bit sceptical about wrist monitors (and so is my GP though I used a cheap one I got in the US years ago, and calibrated it by my GP. But I'd suggest a better bet is the upper-arm type. I now use an Omron M3 Comfort and, by complete coincidence, so does my GP. Not the cheapest, at about £40, but unless funds are extremely tight, it's very good value for something that might save your life or that of a loved one. Remember, I had absolutely no hint of a problem, but I had the condition.

    To my mind, that's a better use of limited funds that supplements for what also might not be a problem. And it can't hurt either.

    Next time I talk to the (hospital) pharmacist pharmacist about my blood results, I'll try to remember to ask about vitamin D supplements, in winter.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Interesting that the importance of vitamin D and COVID-19 is getting through at Government level - David Davis MP has just raised the issue at PMQs, and Boris Johnson has confirmed that it's something the government are 'looking into'. So some progress at least. Apparently in Scotland everyone who is in the 'shielding' group have been given a free four-month supply of vitamin D.

    https://vimeo.com/user126298764/revi...356/81d375cbff
    Last edited by MrJim; 02-11-2020 at 07:31 PM. Reason: video added

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    Two different bits of advice, there. I would certainly agree with the latter, if you are either having a blood test anyway, or have reason to suspect a deficiency. The former? I would suggest seeking advice before taking vitamin supplements, as opposed to increasing specific foodstuffs strong in specific vitamins or other necessary minerals, etc. It is, for instance, possible to cause problems by excessive intake of vitamin D (and others). Look up vitamin D toxicity. Also, the way vitamins are absorbed and utilised are different between absorption from sunlight, and oral supplements.

    Due to some medication, I have to get blood tests every month, and did have a brief course of supplements of calcium and potassium, but despite a fairly indoors lifestyle (not entirely from choice) have had no vitamin deficiencies.

    When I queried taking vitamin supplements, it was suggested I did not attempt to solve a problem unless I knew I had it.
    It's not just my suggestion that taking vitamin D supplements is a good idea at this time of year; the Government actually advise it:
    https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy...N9YdLfK0QCz3zo

    The risk of vitamin D toxicity is very low; you'd have to take huge quantities of supplements over a long period of time to suffer from this (in excess of 10,000IU per day).

    The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on vitamin D actually suggest that people who are not exposed to sunlight during the Summer months should take vitamin D supplements all year round. I fall into this category myself, as I have an adverse physiological reaction to spending extended periods of time exposed to strong sunlight.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    It's not just my suggestion that taking vitamin D supplements is a good idea at this time of year; the Government actually advise it: ...
    It might be nit-picking but they don't advise taking a supplement. They advise considering taking it.

    All I'm saying, and I'll repeat it with a bit more detail, is that due to medical conditions, including bone cancer, and both radiotherapy and chemo, I am especially at risk of bone weakness. Also, I don't get much sun, sometimes not getting outside at all in a week, or even several. Also, my blood is tested every month or the chemo cocktail cannot be re-prescribed.

    And yet, despite all the risk factors, those monthly blood tests are not showing vitamin D issues, and vitamin supplements are not among the dozen or so tablets I have to take.

    I doubt most people have a blood test more than once a year, and most generally healthy people not even that often, yet the consultant pharmacist keeps a very close eye on my blood chemistry and we talk about it every month.

    No vitamin deficiencies. A brief calcium deficiency, but even that was dealt with in 5 days and not subsequently needed.

    Am I typical? Obviously not. But I would suspect if anyone is at risk, I would be and it isn't the case.

    If people want to take vitamin D, in modest doses, it shouldn't be harmful but my experience also suggests it might well be unnecessary.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    I've spoken casually to a couple of GPs and both basically said they don't advise Vit D tests as "pretty much everyone is deficient"
    Seems low/medium level dosing is safe and a good 'just in case' (UK at least)

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Most people would not be deficient and would not require a doctors visit per se. If concerned then the over-the-counter supplement (usually 1000iu) would be more than adequate and should be safe. The recommendation from GPs are typically 400-800iu if levels are insuficient.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Some progress from the Government at last!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55108613

    Clinical trials involving vitamin D & COVID-19 are emerging...slowly:


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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Imho if you don't live in a sunny country you should take Vitamin D regardless. It's an amazing supplement which really helps with improving your mood too, it takes a little while for it to settle in your system and take effect but honestly results are very visible. I've been taking Vitamin D for over a year every day and have felt amazing ever since. Seeing news about it possibly helping with COVID just makes me feel even better!

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Quote Originally Posted by xylus View Post
    Imho if you don't live in a sunny country you should take Vitamin D regardless. It's an amazing supplement which really helps with improving your mood too, it takes a little while for it to settle in your system and take effect but honestly results are very visible. I've been taking Vitamin D for over a year every day and have felt amazing ever since. Seeing news about it possibly helping with COVID just makes me feel even better!
    I take a multivitamin every winter. They help to overcome the severity of short sunny days and many cloudy days. Taking vitamins for 3-4 months is already a good habit in the last 4-5 years. By the way, I get sick much less often in the cold season and, I think, is not the last role in this in taking vitamins.

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    Re: Vitamin D levels & COVID-19

    Or you can just increase the above-mentioned foods...

    Incidentally, this one works great even if you quadruple the mushroom measure:
    https://www.errenskitchen.com/easy-b...hroom-risotto/

    I have to say, I'm feeling better this year, but rather than take loads of supplements I just haven't been around many humans!!
    _______________________________________________________________________
    Quote Originally Posted by stevie lee View Post
    I could never work my way back up the shaft. Managed once to get to the bottom of the shaft, but got covered in slime and got stuck.

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