As the world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic right now, many of us are probably sitting at home and wondering what we can do to keep safe and healthy during this time.
Taking care of our bodies is key right now. Because so many of us are isolating indoors we are probably not getting very much sun exposure. Vitamin D, also sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” is produced in your skin in response to direct sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.
Vitamin D has several important functions such as regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus to promote the normal growth and development of bones, teeth and muscle as well as playing a vital role in immune health.
Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. This vitamin plays a critical role in promoting immune response. It has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties and is crucial for the activation of immune system defenses.
It’s important to note that there’s currently no cure for COVID-19 and no preventive measures other than social distancing and proper hygiene practices to help protect yourself and to limit the spread of this disease to others.
That said, some research shows that having healthy levels of vitamin D, as well as taking a vitamin D supplement, can help keep your immune system healthy and may protect against respiratory illnesses in general.
In fact, the vitamin is so important for immune function that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased susceptibility to infection and disease including eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration which is a leading cause of blindness in adults.
Over recent years, the decrease in UV exposure has led to an increase in vitamin D deficiency and because of this, it’s important not only for your eyesight, but for your overall health, to include foods rich in vitamin D in your diet.
Fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, are natural sources of vitamin D. Some foods are also fortified with vitamin D including milk, orange juice, plant-based milks and cereals. Most yogurts and other dairy products are surprisingly not good vitamin D sources. To meet the minimum 400IU to 600IU daily recommendation for vitamin D, you must drink four to six glasses of milk a day! So your best bet is to include a few fortified foods in the daily menu and take a supplement that contains at least 400IUs of this vitamin.
This is a reminder to keep up the good work during this time of physical distancing and life pause. Utilize the extra time for self-care and make it a part of your routine. Everything goes, and eventually this difficult time will pass so let’s emerge out of this healthy, well-rested, and with a clearer vision for the future. Until next time, keep healthy and keep safe!