Why you might want to take a vitamin D supplement right now

Nutritionist says people might need a vitamin D supplement during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s called the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin uses sunlight to produce it naturally. But if you’re staying indoors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, your body isn’t producing enough right now.

“It” is vitamin D, and you need it.

Vitamin D is vital to maintaining healthy bones, but it also boosts your immune system. And, according to WebMD, there is “mounting evidence that links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system.”

A research study from 2016 suggests vitamin D supplements may help to protect against acute respiratory tract infections.

Dr. Michael Holick, an expert on vitamin D research from Boston University who has published more than 500 papers and 18 books on the subject, told CNN last month the vitamin regulates the production of a protein that "selectively kills infectious agents, including bacteria and viruses."

Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, told CNN that people may not be getting enough vitamin D during lockdown.

"To protect their bone and muscle health, they should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D," she said in an emailed statement to CNN.

If you are unable to go outside these days, don’t fret. Vitamin D can be found in a few foods naturally, and in others through fortification:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • egg yolk
  • shrimp
  • milk (fortified)
  • cereal (fortified)
  • yogurt (fortified)
  • orange juice (fortified)

You'll probably still need to take a supplement, however, healthline.com reports.

The symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in adults, according to healthline.com, include:

  • tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • severe bone or muscle pain or weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, or cause you to walk with a waddling gait
  • stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis and hips

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